Police officers are at considerable risk of suffering broken bones, sprains, strains, cuts, bruises, and other injuries. Police work is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Nationwide, law enforcement officers are more likely to suffer an injury requiring days away from work that is far greater than other occupations.
Common Injuries Related to Police Work
Of the 669,100 police officers who received treatment in hospital emergency rooms between 2003 and 2014, 36% of injuries were related to assaults and violent acts. A total of 15% were caused by overexertion or motion repetition, while 11% were because of falls, and 14% were because of motor vehicle accidents.
In the United States, law enforcement officers are at a significant risk of suffering a nonfatal injury requiring time away from work. In 2018, officers reported a nonfatal injury rate from multiple traumatic injuries of 23.5 per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This was significantly higher than the 2.8 per 10,000 FTE workers recorded for all professions. When law enforcement officers require time away from work, the average number of days away is 10 compared to 9 for other professions.
Claims filed for strains, sprains, and tears occur at a rate of 133.5 per 10,000 FTE workers. This was nearly four times the rate of 34 for all professions. Soreness and pain were recorded at a rate of 79.6 among law enforcement officers. By comparison, that rate was only 18.7 for all professions.
Assaults on the Rise
Police work is becoming more dangerous because suspects and the general public are becoming increasingly willing to assault police officers. From 2003 to 2014, the number of assaults against police officers rose by 10%. Given the current highly charged environment, it’s likely this number will rise even further in the coming months and years.
Race, Gender, and Age are Factors in Injury Rates
Based on data from 2018, for every 100 law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty, 76 are white, 14 are African-American, 11 are Hispanic, 4 are American Indian or Alaska native, and 1 is Asian. Further, of the 100 officers injured, 93 are male and 7 are female.
66% of injured officers are between the ages of 25-44, while 30 are over 45. Only 12 are under the age of 24. Overall, these rates reflect the typical demographics of law enforcement agencies across the United States.