3/31/16 Violent Crime

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Violent crime has increased dramatically.  That is, if you believe the headlines.

But the facts tell a different story.
 
Violence has actually been trending downward for 40 years.

But what about news stories claiming fatal gun attacks against law enforcement officers is way up, you ask? 

[Claims of rising fatal gun attacks on police officers can be found in newspaper headlines (here, here, here, here, here, here), blog columns (here, here) or on the cable news channels (here, here)]. 

This is also not true.

[Law enforcement data points this out.  The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the Officer Down Memorial Page have details on officer loss of life.]

Last year, there were 39 fatal gun attacks on law enforcement officers.  This made 2015 the second safest year in more than 50.  With 31 fatal gun attacks, 2013 was the safest year since they’ve been keeping records.  This is still 31 deaths too many.

Vehicle-related fatalities are the leading cause of cop deaths in a typical year.  According to federal highway officials, 42% of officers killed in car crashes over a 30-year period weren’t wearing seat belts.

[Many departments run “click-it or ticket” campaigns even while their own officers don’t wear seat belts.]

Early data suggests 2016 may see a spike in overall violence and in fatal cop attacks.  But it’s still too early to draw any definitive conclusions.

Public perception may have been formed by recent events.  One is violence on college campuses late last year.  The other is unfortunate behavior on the 2016 campaign trail.

Of course, we mustn’t forget about sensational headlines.  They help sell newspapers and promote cable news programs.

Still, the public should always be vigilant. 

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