For Your Reading: The 2006 FBI Study "Violent Encounters"
This was an intensive 5 year study the FBI did looking at deadly assaults (usually with guns) on police officers during their duties. In particular they focused on 40 incidents and deeply investigated them including in depth interviews with both the surviving officers and the attackers. From this they gleaned a huge amount of data as well as some interesting findings. At the high level the data shows that police attackers (and would-be cop-killers):
- Show signs of being armed that officers miss;
- Have more experience using deadly force in "street combat" than their intended victims;
- Practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately;
- Have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger.
It also has a chapter on the subjective perceptions and perceptual distortions that both the attacker and officer experienced during the fight as well as a discussion of why witnesses (and this includes involved officers) often get so much wrong. Members of the media ought to at least skim this report...but I know that that's just a wishcastful fantasy.
A couple of tidbits:
- Most of the attacks occurred at night, especially after midnight
- 9mm pistols were the most commonly used guns
- All the offenders had priors
- Almost 70% of the attackers had planned to attack the police even before the encounter
- Most of the attackers practiced with their weapons - often more than police do
- The attackers usually shot first and had a better hit percentage (68%) than the police (39%)
- The initial shots were at an average of 14 feet opening up to 25 feet at the end