132 police killed in line of duty in 2008

My brotha Salim sent me a email today that got my brain churnin. He's the brother who wrote the essay "On becoming a black cop" back in Liberator 4.1 (link). I would vouch for him in front of God, that he is a soldier in the community and would hold him up any day as an example of what a healthy African man is. For more info on black cops visit blackpolice.org. In his message though, he shared with me some thoughts and some statistics about police officers killed in the line of duty:
36 of these officers killed in the line of duty were killed by gunfire. Many others were killed while conducting the business stowed upon them by the public which they serve. While I don't condone illegal activity, to include activity committed by police officers, I think it's our duty to recognize those who are the first to come to our rescue when we're in need. Those who dishonor the responsibility given to us by the public should be dealt with appropriately and intensely. Perhaps it would be appropriate to add a section titled "SAVED BY POLICE" so that you're readers have the opportunity to read objectively. Just food for thought. Hope you're well. Keep doing what you're doing. Stay up.

I greatly appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me. And I think the statistics below are well worth sharing. Initially, however, I disagree on the usefulness of a "saved by police" section. My thinking is that, when a doctor puts a cast on someone with a broken leg, that's not news -- he's doing his job. When a doctor doesn't do his job however, that is what communities are concerned about -- because by definition, it is cause for concern. And I think communities, rightfully, tend to organize and act around things that concern them, not things that are going as they should.

The exceptions, I think, are truly extraordinary jobs well done -- like the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson river. Yeah, that's his job, but he went above and beyond regular expectations. I think, naturally, communities tend to organize and celebrate around such moments.

But setting the extraordinary aside for a moment, I still think sharing the stats of police killed in the line of duty is an excellent and more useful idea than a "saved by police" tally. Just sharing these stats I think brings an element of balance to the narrative.

However, I think to REALLY make info on police killed in the line of duty useful, we would need to share more info about specific stories so that context (that stats don't provide) could be included. And in fact, that could very well include instances of heroism. I'm certainly not against sharing good news instances of police saving lives, but I am, however, careful about becoming a propaganda source for police. In some ways I feel that their actions should speak loud enough -- if they are doing good things, the community will directly recognize such without help from media.

But I do recognize an unfairness in some folks' perception of police. And while I relate to that perception intensely, due to my own negative experiences with police, my better mind knows that theoretically grouping all police based on the unjust actions of some departments or officers is ultimately not the way to go. So I think I will keep an eye out for more instances of police successfully executing their jobs.

That said I will continue to recognize that just as all instances of citizens being killed by police are not examples of injustice, so too, all instances of police being killed by citizens are not acts of heroism. And of course, vice versa.

So, if you come across stories (news clips, video, etc)... or know of a source that publishes that type of info regularly... about cops killed in duty, I would be extremely interested in sharing. Admittedly I don't know of any sources that regularly share such stories... outside of local news stations (which would be much too hard to follow comprehensively) so I see the need and more importantly, the use.

Police Officers killed in the line of duty in 2008.

Average tour:
10 years, 11 months

Average age:

Female: 14
Male: 118

Total Line of Duty Deaths: 132
9/11 related illness: 1
Accidental: 1
Aircraft accident: 4
Assault: 1
Automobile accident: 39
Bomb: 2
Drowned: 1
Duty related illness: 2
Electrocuted: 1
Exposure to toxins: 1
Gunfire: 36
Gunfire (Accidental): 2
Heart attack: 5
Motorcycle accident: 8
Stabbed: 2
Struck by vehicle: 11
Train accident: 1
Vehicle pursuit: 3
Vehicular assault: 11

By Month:
January: 14
February: 11
March: 5
April: 3
May: 9
June: 14
July: 7
August: 14
September: 19
October: 14
November: 12
December: 10

By State:
Alabama: 3
Arizona: 4
Arkansas: 2
California: 11
Colorado: 1
Connecticut: 1
Florida: 8
Georgia: 6
Illinois: 4
Indiana: 2
Iowa: 1
Kentucky: 2
Louisiana: 5
Maryland: 5
Massachusetts: 1
Michigan: 2
Mississippi: 1
Missouri: 5
Montana: 1
Nevada: 1
New Jersey: 2
New Mexico: 1
New York: 5
North Carolina: 4
Ohio: 5
Oklahoma: 3
Oregon: 2
Pennsylvania: 7
Puerto Rico: 2
Railroad Police: 1
South Carolina: 3
Tennessee: 2
Texas: 14
Tribal Police: 1
U.S. Government: 6
Utah: 1
Virgin Islands: 1
Virginia: 4
Washington: 1
Wisconsin: 1

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