Being A Police Officer Is Not Even In The Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

By David Grace (Amazon PageDavid Grace Website)

On June 6, 2020 A. Cab published a Medium column titled: “Confessions Of A Former Bastard Cop

Here’s an excerpt quote from that column:

— — — — —

“The majority of my time in the academy was spent doing aggressive physical training and watching video after video after video of police officers being murdered on duty.

“I want to highlight this: nearly everyone coming into law enforcement is bombarded with dash cam footage of police officers being ambushed and killed. Over and over and over. Colorless VHS mortality plays, cops screaming for help over their radios, their bodies going limp as a pair of tail lights speed away into a grainy black horizon.

“In my case, with commentary from an old racist cop who used to brag about assaulting Black Panthers.

“To understand why all cops are bastards, you need to understand one of the things almost every training officer told me when it came to using force:

“I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.” Meaning, “I’ll take my chances in court rather than risk getting hurt”.

— — — — —

Instilling A Systemic Climate Of Fear

Cops hear a constant drumbeat of warnings that they have an exceptionally dangerous job, that at any moment they’re possibly going to be killed, that they always have to be ready to shoot first and shoot to kill in order to protect themselves.

That’s largely untrue, but they don’t know that because the people they trust, the veteran cops training them, keep repeating the warnings while showing them videos of cops being murdered.

Police officer training does everything possible to instill an attitude of fear, danger and “Us against Them” into recruits where “us” means other cops and “them” means everyone who is not a cop.

After being repeatedly warned that their lives are always in danger, they’re trained that in order to protect themselves from this immanent, ever-present threat they must

  • (1) shoot first if they feel threatened;
  • (2) shoot to kill, and
  • (3) don’t stop shooting until the “target” is on the ground and not moving.

Is it any wonder that 1,004 people were killed by police officers in the United States in 2019?

On-The-Job Fatalities For Police Officers

In 2019, 104 cops died on the job from accident or assault. Of that number, 48 were killed by hostile gunfire and two were killed by accidental gunfire. Here’s the breakdown of those 104 on-duty either accidental or intentional deaths:

  • Accidental 1
  • Assault 3
  • Automobile crash 22
  • Drowned 1
  • Duty related illness 2
  • Explosion 1
  • Gunfire 48
  • Gunfire (Inadvertent) 2
  • Motorcycle crash 1
  • Struck by vehicle 14
  • Training accident 1
  • Vehicle pursuit 1
  • Vehicular assault 7

In 2018 there were 119 on-the-job police deaths broken down as follows:

  • Accidental 1
  • Assault 4
  • Automobile crash 26
  • Drowned 4
  • Duty related illness 5
  • Fall 1
  • Gunfire 52
  • Gunfire (Inadvertent)1
  • Motorcycle crash 3
  • Struck by train 2
  • Struck by vehicle 6
  • Vehicle pursuit 5
  • Vehicular assault 9

Number Of Civilians Killed By Police Officers

In 2019 the ratio of civilians shot by cops to cops shot by civilians was 1004/48 = 21 to 1.

For every police officer who was killed by a civilian in 2019, 21 civilians were killed by cops in 2019.

Being A Police Officer Is Not Even In The Top Ten Most Dangerous Jobs

The claim that being a police officer is one of the most dangerous jobs in America is untrue.

There are about 800,000 police officers in the United States. The number of deaths per 100,000 is:

2018 119/8 = 14.875/100,000.

2019 104/8 = 13/100,000

Let’s average that and say 14 on-the-job deaths/100,000 officers.

The REAL Most Dangerous Jobs In America

Now, let’s look at the top ten most dangerous jobs in America expressed as deaths per 100,000 workers:

  • Loggers 136 fatalities/100,000. 136 minus 14 =122/14. It’s 870% more dangerous to be logger than a cop
  • Fisherman 86/100K. It’s 514% more dangerous to be a fisherman than a cop
  • Pilots 55.5/100K. It’s about 300% more dangerous to be a pilot than a cop
  • Roofers 48.6/100K. It’s about 250% more dangerous to be a roofer than a cop
  • Refuse & Recyclable Material Collectors 34.1/100K. It’s about 144% more dangerous to be a trash collector than a cop
  • Structural Iron and Steel Workers 25.1/100K. It’s about 80% more dangerous to be an iron workers than a cop
  • Truck Drivers 24.7/100K. 24.7/14. It’s about 76% more dangerous to be a truck driver than a cop
  • Agricultural Workers 23.1/100K. It’s about 65% more dangerous to be a farmer/rancher than a cop
  • Construction Workers 18/100K. It’s about 29% more dangerous to be a construction worker than a cop
  • Maintenance & Grounds Workers 17.4/100K. It’s about 24% more dangerous to be a maintenance/grounds keeper than a cop

What If Cops Weren’t Panicked By Their Training Officers?

How differently would police act if they understood that

  • Their job was not even in the top ten most dangerous jobs in America?
  • Cops shoot and kill 21 civilians for every officer shot and killed by a civilian?

What Citizens Think Is OK Is Different From What Cops Think Is OK

Cops want to be able to shoot people before they’re certain that the person they’re shooting is actually pulling a gun, because it’s safer for them to shoot first.

They think that, “Gee, I thought he was reaching for a gun, but it turns out it was a cell phone. Ooops. Sorry” is acceptable conduct.

The average citizen thinks that’s totally unacceptable conduct.

— —

Cops want to pull out their guns when they feel threatened, aim for center mass, and shoot until their magazine is empty or the target is unmoving on the ground, whichever comes first.

The average citizen thinks that when reasonably possible the police should be required to first use their baton or taser, second, fire a warning shot, third shoot once as close as possible to a non-lethal area, and only as a last resort fire multiple shots at center mass.

— —

Cops want to shoot people who run away from them.

The average citizen thinks that’s murder.

— —

Cops want to shoot anyone who refuses to drop a non-firearm threat like a knife or a club.

The average citizen thinks that the police shouldn’t be allowed to shoot someone with a knife or club unless that knife or club presents an immediate threat of serious harm to the officer, that the police need to use their baton or taser to disarm the person, not just stand back and shoot them.

— —

Cops want to stop people from recording them.

The average citizen thinks they have a right to record everything the police do in a public place.

— —

Cops want to be able to stop, question and detain “suspicious” people and require them to tell the cops why they’re there, what they’re doing, where they live, where they’re going and, essentially, explain and justify their presence.

The average citizen thinks they shouldn’t have to answer any questions beyond identifying themselves.

The average citizen thinks that they have and should have the right to tell an officer “I’m not going to answer your questions. Get out of my way” and walk away without interference by the police.

— —

The citizens paying the bill need the police to abandon the idea that

  • they are going to be able to stop and question any citizens whose presence or actions they find “suspicious.”
  • they can detain, arrest or interfere with people who refuse to follow their instructions or answer their questions.
  • they can shoot people before they see a gun.
  • they are required to shoot to kill.
  • they are required to keep shooting until the person is motionless on the ground.

Why The Police Have To Change How They Do Their Job

The “shoot and kill when frightened”, the “stop, question and detain when suspicious” police tactics have to stop for many reasons:

  • Hatred of the police leads to violence against the police
  • Hatred of the police allows crimes to go unsolved and criminals unpunished because citizens will refuse to cooperate with the police
  • Loss of respect for society and the government
  • Tolerance of crime because the police, rather than the criminals, are seen as the more dangerous enemy
  • The huge cost to taxpayers and consequent diversion of tax money away from needed programs.

In the 2018–2019 fiscal year, Los Angeles County paid out $91.5 MILLION dollars in judgments and settlements in satisfaction of claims filed against the LAPD and the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

That’s just ONE county in one state and the cost for police misconduct was close to $100 MILLION dollars of taxpayer money. And, that doesn’t include millions more for lawyers, judges and juries.

Until police conduct is materially changes, until all police are required to do their job the way the citizens want it done, we are not going to stop the shootings, demonstrations, and lawsuits.

The Customer Is Always Right

The cops believe that doing their job the way citizens want will make it harder and make them less safe.

The citizens think that determining how the police do their job is up to the citizens, not the police, and if the officers don’t want to do it the way the citizens paying for the service want it done then they shouldn’t take the job in the first place.

The police think their tactics are proper, but the citizens they’re supposed to be serving, their customers, think their tactics are wrong.

When the people providing a service want to do it one way and the people paying for the service want it done in another way, the job needs to be done the way the customers want it done.

The police are there to provide a service to the citizens. The citizens, not the police, get the ultimate say on how the police can and cannot provide that service.

Bottom line, in order to “fix” the police, the officers are going to have to accept the fundamental rule that they cannot engage in conduct that the average citizen considers to be overbearing, bullying, intrusive, dangerous, insulting or harmful no matter how much safer the police think they would be doing the job the way they want.

Like Other Professionals, Police Need To Be Licensed On A State-Wide Basis

In order to enforce the citizens’ rules, like lawyers, doctors, dentists, hairdressers, plumbers, contractors, architects, and numerous other professionals, police officers are going to have to be licensed on a state-wide basis.

Disciplinary action must be imposed by civilians working for the state government in the same way that lawyers are disbarred and doctors have their licenses suspended.

Those license revocations will mean that the officer whose license is suspended or revoked will be unable to work as a police officer anywhere in the state.

Without These Fundamental Changes, The Police Problem Is Unfixable

Short of these sorts of measures, what civilians view as police misconduct is unfixable.

The customer is always right.

— David Grace (

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David Grace

David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.