Report: Deadly Calls And Fatal Encounters

In 2015, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice COPS office to study officer line-of-duty deaths.

This report is a five-year study analyzing line-of-duty deaths in which a total of 684 cases were reviewed. Specifically, the analysis focused on cases that involved a dispatched call for service which required a police response and what information was made available to responding officers in the deadliest calls for service. Armed with this information, researchers were then tasked with determining if any commonalities existed that could be utilized as learning tools to prevent future deadly calls or fatal encounters.

Some key findings from this report reveal that calls related to domestic disputes and domestic-related incidents represented the highest number of fatal types of calls for service and were also the underlying cause of law enforcement fatalities for several other calls for service. In addition, researchers discovered that officers were slain with handguns in 71% of all cases studied and that in 45% of all the cases in which officers were responding to a dispatched call for service that ended in a fatality, the officers had been advised the suspect(s) might be armed, or had made prior threats.

Based on the results of the analysis of these fatal incidents, it is clear that agencies must strive to improve the information sharing between dispatchers and all responding officers. Better information regarding the location and its call history, as well as any other details of the call, must be made readily available. Information sharing between officers via Mobile Digital Computers, tablets, smart phones or simply relaying pertinent information over the radio is a critical component of safety as it enhances the officer’s awareness and may guide their approach to the call.

This report also recommends that agencies responding to each other’s calls under an inter-jurisdictional MOU or other agreement, conduct shared dispatcher and supervisory training to better coordinate responses to high priority calls such as Officer Needs Assistance, Robbery in Progress, and Shots Fired. Agency personnel should also ensure that domestic violence/disturbance cases are monitored closely and that dispatchers inquire about an officer’s welfare regularly when they are on the scene of a high priority call.

Additionally, first line supervisors must correct dangerous behaviors such as complacency, speeding, not wearing seatbelts, not wearing issued body armor and failing to wait for backup before taking action.

Check out the full report here: