Date of Award
Master of Science
Criminology and Criminal Justice
JoEllen G. Pederson, Ph.D.
The purpose of this mixed methods study is to understand when, how often, and why felonious and accidental law enforcement deaths occur in the line of duty. Every day officers put their lives in danger to protect and serve the public. While it is irrational to expect officer line of duty deaths to be zero, these deaths can be reduced research that can be done to aid in this reduction is critical. Although studies have looked at the circumstances surrounding the incidents in which officers are killed, they have yet to explore the impact of time and season that this phenomenon occurs.
This is a mixed methods study conducted using the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted dataset from Uniform Crime Reports, collected by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of lnvestigations from 2010 as well as interviews with six law enforcement officers.A logistical regression model is used to determine what time of day an officer is most likely to be feloniously and accidentally killed in the line of duty. Additionally, data is analyzed to show the season in which a law enforcement officer is most likely to be feloniously and accidentally killed in the line of duty. The main objective of the quantitative section ofthis report is to determine what, if any, trends are present through this data. The law enforcement officers interviewed were from a rural county in Virginia. From these interviews, information was obtained in regards to reasons for career selection, training, and perceived dangers throughout their every day duties.
Initial quantitative findings suggest, a law enforcement officer is more likely to be feloniously killed in the line of duty in the winter and summer between the hours of 0601 and 1200. Findings also suggest that accidental line of duty deaths are random in terms of time, meaning there is no trend found as to when these deaths occur, which is expected. The analization of the data also shows that a law enforcement officer is most likely to be accidentally killed in the line of duty during the winter months. Ifofficers are more likely to be killed feloniously in the summer and winter between the hours of 0601-1200, then extra precautions should be taken to assist in preventing line of duty deaths during these times. The main findings of these interviews consist of four themes: choosing law enforcement as a career to help others, seasonal dangers, vehicle involved deaths, and insufficient training. Proposals for minimizing line of duty deaths are mentioned and explored to aid in the decrease of the number of men and women who lose their lives every year in the line of duty.
Coen, Sarah, "Through an Officers' Eyes: An Exploratory Study of Felonious vs. Accidental Law Enforcement Line of Duty Deaths" (2015). Theses & Honors Papers. 128.