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New York City Police Still Face On-The-Job Dangers, Despite Improvements

Although this blog frequently reports on the dangers faced by New York City construction workers, other jobs in New York are also dangerous. Take, for example, the hazards faced by police officers every day. Already in 2014, one officer has been shot in the legs and another dragged hundreds of feet by an ATV - and those are just the most recent incidences of job-related violence that causes injury and death to New York's finest. They are also the most common causes of injuries and fatalities -- gunshots and motor vehicles.

New York City has lost more officers to shootings and other fatal incidents than any other city department in the United States. Since 1791, 697 officers in New York City have died on the job, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. No officers have died in 2014.

Although we often think of firearms when we think about law enforcement officer injuries and deaths, police officers face many other hazards on the job. The most common of these are simple assaults and motor vehicle accidents. Moreover, police officer fatalities and injuries are declining, in part reflecting the national decline in criminal activity.

Some numbers tell the story of the safer environments in which police officers across the U.S. work:

  • Officer deaths in the line of duty are the lowest they have been since 1959.
  • The number of deaths each year is lower: There were 111 officers killed in 2013, and 121 killed in 2012.
  • Thirty-three officers were killed by firearms in 2013, the lowest number since 1887.
  • Forty-six officers were killed in traffic-related accidents in 2013.

Why this reduction? As stated above, the overall crime rate is down, making life safer for everyone, including law enforcement. Other reasons for improved safety include:

  • The near universal use of bullet-proof vests reduces the number of gun fatalities.
  • Polices restricting the use of high-speed chases has reduced the number of deaths in car accidents.

Workplace safety improvements such as these do mean that the job of an average New York cop or detective is without danger. It is difficult for officers or the department to anticipate and train for every possible hazard on this dangerous job. But by providing the best equipment and training available, the NYPD can keep its officers as safe as possible, given the inherent dangerous of the job.