Myth or Reality?

Policing is the most deadly profession.

Whenever a police officer is killed in the line of duty, it captures the headlines. This prompts many to believe that policing is an especially deadly line of work. Unfortunately, and as you probably know by now, the news media don’t often tell the whole story. Newscasts give the impression that random crimes of violence are the norm, but we know that most crimes are not of the violent variety. We also know that victims and offenders frequently know one another. The news also makes it seem like juvenile crime is on the rise, that criminals are getting more violent, and so on. A hard look at the data usually reveals a different kind of reality. The same can be said of occupational fatalities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on work-related injuries and fatalities. As of 2008, the most recent year for which complete data are available, the deadliest profession was fishing! The fatality injury rate for fishers and related fishing workers was 128.2 per 100,000. This means that approximately 129 out of every 100,000 workers in that industry died in 2008. It would seem that the Discovery Channel’s popular program, Deadliest Cast, is aptly named! Next, from most to least deadly are: Logging workers (119.7 per 100,000), aircraft pilots/flight engineers (73.2 per 100,000), structural iron and steel workers (46.5 per 100,000), farmers/ranchers (40.3 per 100,000), refuse and recyclable material collectors (35.5 per 100,000), roofers (34.4 per 100,000), electrical power line installers/repairers (29.8 per 100,000), driver/sales workers and truck drivers (24 per 100,000), and taxi drivers/chauffeurs (19.3 per 100,000). Note what profession is absent from this “top ten” list? That’s right, police officers. Their 2008 work-related fatality rate was 16 per 100,000, nearly one eighth that of fishing workers.

Writing Assignment: Policing may not be the deadliest profession, but many police officers are injured each year. Where does policing fit in relation to other professions when looking at injuries instead of fatalities? Find answers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, which can be accessed here:

www.bls.gov

There were 526 workplace homicides during 2008. In how many of those were police officers victims? Read about law enforcement officers killed and assaulted at this link on the FBI’s website: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#leoka (accessed May 10, 2010).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0007.pdf (accessed May 10, 2010).