Police Work Isn’t That Dangerous

Balko points out that “last year was the safest year for cops since the early 1960s” and that “a cop today is about as likely to be murdered on the job as someone who merely resides in about half of the country’s 75 largest cities”:

In researching my forthcoming book, I interviewed lots of police officers, police administrators, criminologists and others connected to the field of law enforcement. There was a consensus among these people that constantly telling cops how dangerous their jobs are is affecting their mindset. It reinforces the soldier mentality already relentlessly drummed into cops’ heads by politicians’ habit of declaring “war” on things. Browse the online bulletin boards at sites like PoliceOne (where users must be credentialed law enforcement to comment), and you’ll see a lot of hostility toward everyone who isn’t in law enforcement, as well as various versions of the sentiment “I’ll do whatever I need to get home safe at night.” That’s a mantra that speaks more to self-preservation than public service.

When cops are told that every day on the job could be their last, that every morning they say goodbye to their families could be the last time they see their kids, that everyone they encounter is someone who could possibly kill them, it isn’t difficult to see how they might start to see the people they serve as an enemy. Again, in truth, the average cop has no more reason to see the people he interacts with day to day as a threat to his safety than does the average resident of St. Louis or Los Angeles or Nashville, where I live.