To date, there have been 82 line of duty deaths of US law enforcement officers. Texas and Louisiana have the most line of duty deaths this year.
The Great State of Texas has 11 duty deaths.
Cause of Texas deaths:
- 3 by automobile accidents
- 2 by gunfire
- 2 by motorcycle accidents
- 2 by vehicle assault
- 1 by assault
- 1 by heart attack
The Great State of Louisiana has 9 duty deaths.
Cause of Louisiana deaths:
- 5 by gunfire
- 2 by heart attack
- 1 struck by vehicle
- 1 vehicle pursuit
One statistical category that is not recognized by the profession is police suicides. There is no official reporting/tracking of police suicides. There has been at least 33 law enforcement suicides in 2015. The actual number might be higher but these numbers come from media stories that indicated the officer committed suicide so the actual numbers are not coming from a valid and credible scientific research method.
Combing all the categories together, suicide continues to be the number one killer of law enforcement, the least understood, and the least amount discussed, with the least amount of action to prevent it.
Why is talking about mental illness in the profession being ignored? Ignoring the problem is killing officers. That is the cold hard truth that no one wants or willing to talk about!
Every time an office falls in the line of duty, it affects all of the law enforcement community.
When is the profession going to officially recognize and acknowledge police suicide brought on my duty related mental illness? Police suicide is real and it is the number 1 killer over anything else.
We can no longer live in the shadows and turn our heads pretending that police suicide is not a real or urgent issue.
Mental illness is not a crime. It is not an ethical violation or disgrace to the profession. PTSD can build over time and depression untreated by professional mental health care providers can and has had fatal consequences for the officers suffering alone.
Law enforcement is proud and has traditions of honor, duty, sacrifice.
Next year, when we gather in our capital in Washington DC at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to honor officers who have fallen in the line of duty in 2015 and remember other officers from years past, just keep in mind we will not be honoring everyone.
No officer who has ever lost their battle with depression and committed suicide has their name engraved on the memorial. Not a signal one of these heroes is recognized.
When you hit your knees tonight and pray. Please pray for all our officers who have served honorably and paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep their communities safe.
About the Author
Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.