An estimated 669,100 law enforcement officers were treated in emergency departments across the nation for nonfatal injuries between 2003 and 2014, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Law enforcement officers have historically high rates of fatal and nonfatal injuries. The new research shows that officers are three times more likely to sustain a nonfatal injury than all other U.S. workers.
The study, Nonfatal Injuries to Law Enforcement Officers: A Rise in Assaults, which is the first to examine nonfatal injuries among officers on a national scale, was published online this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. It is also the first to capture nonfatal injuries sustained from assaults and unintentional injuries such as accidental falls or motor vehicle crashes.
“Studies based on evidence are an important feature of public health and this principle extends to studying the law enforcement community and their work,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The safety and health of both police and citizens depend on understanding how policing tactics impact officer and citizen injuries.”
The study researchers, whose aim was to provide national estimates and trends of nonfatal injuries to law enforcement officers from 2003 – 2014, found the following:
- The law enforcement officer nonfatal injury trend increased across the 12-year period studied; this is in contrast with the trend for all other U.S. workers which significantly decreased.
- Assault-related injury rates significantly increased almost 10 percent annually from 2003 to 2011.
- The three leading reasons for on-duty injuries were assaults and violent acts (36%), bodily reactions & exertion from running or other repetitive motions (15%), and transportation incidents (14%).
The study used nonfatal injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work). Data were obtained for injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2003-2014.
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