Are Police Shootings on the Rise Nationally?

Apr 10, 2012

Before the fatal slaying of Austin Police Senior Officer Jaime Padron at an area Wal-Mart last week, the last time a member of the Austin Police Department was killed was in 2004.

But a new analysis posits that even as other violent crimes fall nationally, the killing of police officers may be on the rise.

The New York Times points to an analysis of recent data, tabulating the number of police deaths at the hands of suspected criminals:

According to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 72 officers were killed by perpetrators in 2011, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008.

The 2011 deaths were the first time that more officers were killed by suspects than car accidents, according to data compiled by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The number was the highest in nearly two decades, excluding those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

That 25 percent rise is reflected in an additional 16 killings over the previous year in 2011. With a relatively small number of police killings each year, a numerical increase can create a larger statistical difference. However, as Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo made clear at an emotional press conference recently, every death is felt. 

According to those same FBI statistics, Texas had 45 police officers murdered in the last decade; there, the data shows great variation from year to year, with two slain in 2010 but nine slain in 2007.

A funeral procession for Officer Padron is occurring tomorrow. Austin police will escort Padron’s body out of Austin to its resting place in San Angelo, Texas.