K-9 Duty Death Statistics Highlight Need for Official Reporting System

rookie-2-e1468530050606In 2014, there were 20 law enforcement K-9 duty deaths reported to the Officer Down Memorial Page. It’s difficult to say how accurate that number is, because the statistics on K-9 duty deaths are difficult to track.

U.S. law enforcement has no official reporting procedures or agency that collects the data of law enforcement K-9 partner duty deaths. This is a major oversight and needs to be corrected so that the information obtained from these loyal partner deaths can help develop policies and additional training for handlers and K-9s.

The leading cause of K-9 duty deaths in 2014 was gunfire, which killed five K-9 partners. January was deadliest month for K-9s, losing four K-9 partners. One K-9 partner that was killed in 2014 worked for the department of corrections. One specialized in explosive detection, while another specialized in illegal drug detection.

But this statistical data is not complete because there is no mandatory structured reporting system in place. However, from information obtained from ODMP and interviews with K-9 officers, here is a closer look at the 2014 K-9 duty death statistics:

K-9 duty deaths:

  • Automobile accident: 1
  • Drowned: 1
  • Duty related illness: 1
  • Fall: 2
  • Gunfire: 5
  • Heat exhaustion: 4
  • Stabbed: 2
  • Struck by vehicle: 4

K-9 breeds report:

  • German Shepherd
  • Belgian Shepherd
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Lab
  • Beagle

K-9 gender:

  • Male: 14
  • Female: 6

Total amount of combined K-9 law enforcement experience:

  • 35.1 years

Without a mandatory reporting system and central collecting agency disseminating official data, there is no way to validate the current information to fully analyze. Without this data, assumptions have to be made and conclusions are not reliable.

What is needed is a mandatory universal law enforcement reporting system on K-9 duty deaths so that accurate information can be obtained for analysis and discussion to support the K-9 law enforcement teams. The K-9 units are necessary for law enforcement to successfully protect our businesses and communities, and we need to support these efforts.

About the Author

Mark Bond

Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 30 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. Mark has a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) 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.