In 2015, the “Thin Blue Line” lost 129 law enforcement officers to line of duty deaths.
Firearms claimed 41 officers and law enforcement automobile/motorcycle accidents claimed 32 heroes. 18 officers died of heart attacks and another 6 lost their battle from 9/11 related duty related illnesses.
May was the deadliest month with 17 officer deaths. March claimed 16 officers and in August we had 15 officer deaths. In January and September, we lost 14 officers in these months. In December we lost 13 of our finest.
Texas lost 13 officers. In Louisiana, New York, and Georgia we lost 9 officers. Federal law enforcement also lost 9 officers/agents in 2015.
119 male officers and 10 female officers.
Officer Age and Experience
The average age of officers killed in 2015 is 40 years old and the average law enforcement experience at the time of death is 12 years and 6 months of service.
The statistics for this article are found on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The Cost of Serving
Each fallen officer leaves behind family, colleagues, and friends whose lives are shattered because of their personal loss. Dealing with human tragedy on a regular basis can take its toll on the most resilient officer; however, when it happens to a brother of sister officer it can have a longer lasting emotional effect. There is no shame in seeking out help from professional mental health care providers after experiencing a line of duty death in your department.
What lessons can we learn from these deaths?
Looking Behind the Statistics
The number one police killer is never mentioned and there is no official reporting for police suicides. Police suicides take more lives of active and retired officers then all other categories of duty related deaths combined. The stigma associated with discussing mental health issues in the law enforcement profession only indicates we have not fully evolved away from the “macho” mentality that I am strong enough to take it or handle any situation. When the #1 killer of law enforcement officers is ignored, we are not taking care of each other, no matter what we say, our actions do not show there is a will yet to foster the courage to acknowledge officers who have lost their battle with depression that was brought on by duty related mentality illness.
Later this year in May, we will gather and honor the brave officers who died this past year protecting their communities.
Who will light a candle and speak the names out loud of the officers we lost this past year to police suicide?Until we muster the courage to take care of all our officers and design programs that have the possibility to save lives, we are not addressing the number one cause of police deaths. Police suicide needs to be discussed so that together we find ways to save lives.
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.