The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day. But recently, police injuries have been increasing – a worrying trend that left many to ask, what measures are being taken to protect officers?
Rising Rates of Injury for Police Officers
In 2019, US police led the way in occupational fatalities with 103 officers losing their lives to violent assaults, car accidents, and other line-of-duty injuries. Meanwhile, non-fatal injuries have become increasingly common as well, with a 20% rise observed in 2020 alone. This troubling increase has caused some to question why police injuries have become more frequent and how to effectively reduce the rate of harm experienced by those serving the public.
Potential Risk Factors
Experts theorize that a combination of factors are responsible for the recent uptick in police injuries. They include ever-more-heated attitudes toward law enforcement officers, conflicts in urban settings, high levels of stress in the profession, inadequate protective gear and a lack of current de-escalation training. In light of this, many are calling for a complete re-examination of protocols and procedures of the force to prevent additional officer harm.
Enhanced Health & Safety Standards for Officers
In response to the rise in police injuries, many departments have implemented new procedures to prioritize the health and safety of their officers. These include:
- Mandatory physical and mental health checks to identify signs of fatigue and emotional distress in officers, which can have a negative effect on their abilities to handle crisis situations.
- Upgraded armor & protective gear for officers that meets current safety standards & bulletproof vests.
- Continued de-escalation training to teach officers how to navigate difficult situations without using physical force.
- Enhanced first responder programs to support officers and families struggling to cope with the pressures of their jobs.
By addressing the fundamental causes of police injuries and working to reduce their frequency, these strategies could help ensure the long-term protection of law enforcement officers everywhere.
Protecting Police Officer Health for the Future
Overall, police officers are contending with rising rates of harm which – if left unchecked – could have a devastating effect on their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Thankfully, with the right policies and measures in place, police departments can work to minimize the number of law enforcement injuries and protect our brave officers for years to come.