This Memorial day weekend, Americans are shifting their hero worship from police to veterans and soldiers fallen in war, but the U.S. military isn’t the only industry that often demands the lives of it “employees.”
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,585 American civilians died while doing their jobs in 2013, and being a police officer didn’t even make the top 15 most dangerous list.
With the recent reactionary launch of “Police Lives Matter,” coupled with the onslaught of press regarding police deaths, most Americans would be inclined to think that being a police officer is the ultimate danger – Especially when outlandish claims like, “hundreds of police officers are murdered in the line of duty every year,” are made by people like the Police Commissioner of New York.
Police routinely invoke the dangers of their job to justify everything from preemptive excessive force to retaining military surplus gear like tanks and grenade launchers.
According to the data, loggers, fishers, pilots, miners, roofers, garbage collectors and more all have much more dangerous jobs than police.
When looking at the number of deaths per 100,000 employees, the countries most dangerous job, logging, experiences over nine times the lose of life than police employees do.
Also, despite what the media may lead us to believe, the number of police deaths are actually decreasing. 2013’s fatality rate is about 30 percent lower than in past years.
The annual average number of police deaths from 2006 to 2013 was about 15.8 deaths per 100,000 officers – compared to just 10.8 in 2013 with half resulting from transportation accidents alone.
The statistics shed light on the reality that police officers aren’t special, and neither are soldiers in terms of losing life in the fulfillment of their chosen occupations.
In fact, before 2002, the U.S. military endured only two years (1987, when an Iraqi jet attacked the U.S.S. Stark, and 1991, during Operation Desert Storm) of combat-related casualties in excess of one service-member per 100,000.
As with police, and most other “professions,” accident-related casualities account for most military deaths and have been responsible for an average of 40.8 deaths per 100,000 service members per year since 1980.
Had the United States not involved itself in the “liberating” and policing of Iraq, the average number of combat fatalities would be far lower. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have pushed that number up significantly to a rate of 27.7 service members per 100,000 per year from 2001 through 2010.
This higher fatality rate pushed the overall military death rate up to 93.4 servicemembers per 100,000 per year from 2001 through 2012, but over the last three decades of tracking, 82 servicemembers per 100,000 have died each year to all possible causes.
While becoming a solider or police officer may not be the safest occupation relative to most others, they are hardly the death traps some would want us to believe they are.