Tasked with protecting lives and property, police officers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Responding to emergencies, conducting traffic stops, patrolling high-crime areas, and arresting suspects are all part and parcel of the job – and each year, dozens of police officers are killed in the line of duty. (These are the most dangerous jobs in America.)
According to data compiled by the FBI, a total of 984 police officers in the U.S. were killed on the job over the 10-year period from 2012 to 2021. Just under half of those deaths – 480 – were accidental, often a case of officers on foot being struck by a moving vehicle or dying in a car crash.
The remaining 504 officers, however, were killed feloniously. The circumstances of these deaths range from unprovoked attacks and ambushes to domestic violence calls or active shooter situations in which they become victims themselves.
These statistics serve as a reminder that the hundreds of thousands of men and women who work in law enforcement put their lives on the line each time they put on their uniform. Police in some states, however, are statistically at higher risk than others.
Using FBI data on police officer fatalities and employment, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most dangerous states to be a cop. States are ranked by the police officer fatality rate – or the number of officers killed on duty between 2012 and 2021 for every 100,000 police officers serving in 2021.
In three states – South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming – there were no reported police officer deaths in the last 10 years, either accidental or felonious. In the remaining states, the police fatality rate ranges from 34 deaths to as many as 645 per 100,000 officers.
Of the last 10 years, 2021 was the deadliest for police officers in the United States. That year, a total of 124 officers were killed while on duty, and the majority of them – 56% – were killed feloniously. (Here is a look at the states with the most violent crime.)
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