Each year, the FBI records and shares information related to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. This is valuable information to have because it gives us insight into what weapons and ammunition are being used against officers in the field.
In the last 10 years (2008 to 2017), the FBI reported that 455 officers were feloniously killed in the US and Puerto Rico by firearms, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
The following information has been pulled from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed & Assaulted (LEOKA) Program. The LEOKA Program is one of a number of entities that report information concerning line-of-duty deaths and/or assaults of law enforcement officers in the United States. Each organization has its own purpose and may use different methods to collect and report information or focus on somewhat different aspects of these important topics. Therefore, care should be taken not to compare LEOKA data to data provided by other entities, such as the Officer Down Memorial Page, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and others.
Law Enforcement Officers Feloniously Killed (2008-2017)
When it comes to handguns, the range of ammunition used is quite varied; however, when evaluating the results of officer deaths caused by rifles, there are two clear “standouts”: .223 Caliber and 7.62x39mm. In fact, these two rounds make up for more than half of all officer deaths from rifle fire.
While these rounds can be used in more than one specific rifle, the vast majority of .223 Caliber (closely related to the 5.56mm) rounds are typically used in an AR15-style rifle, and the most common weapon used with 7.62x39mm ammo is the well-known AK-47.
These have become well-known rifles lately due to their popularity among the bad guys for use in mass public and school shootings.
Law Enforcement Officers Feloniously Killed with Firearms While Wearing Body Armor (2008-2017)
The table above narrows down the details from the previously table by specifically sharing the number of officers whose body armor was penetrated, causing the death of the officer.
Again, the ammunition used to kill the most officers over the past 10 years has been the .223 Caliber and 7.62x39mm. These rounds are not only the cause of death for law enforcement officers in general, but they are also the ones that penetrate an officer’s body armor in order to cause the fatality.
What Does This All Mean?
After reviewing these devastating numbers - actually…not just numbers, but lives lost - it should be clear that officers need more protection on a daily basis. Police departments and other law enforcement agencies need to consider what we’re asking of these men and women who serve to protect us: to put their lives on the line every day.
It is not uncommon for law enforcement officers to only wear NIJ Level IIIA soft armor on a regular basis, and then “armor up” if a situation demands it. But, with new developments like our Duritium(r) technology, officers can, in fact, wear Level III (and even Level III+ Special Threat) protection without the extra bulk and weight of traditional ceramic and steel body armor plates. Our thinnest, lightest NIJ Level III compliant Duritium III+PA plates weigh just 2.7 pounds (1.2 kg) for a 10”x12” (25.4cm x 30.5cm) shooter cut.
Is an officer’s life worth an extra 5 lbs.?
If this bothers you as much as it bothers us, please reach out and let us help you convince your Chief, Sheriff, Procurement Officer, Mayor, or City Council that you can’t protect us if you’re not protected enough yourself.
You can start by downloading this free Body Armor Buyer’s Guide: 17 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying Ballistic Plates.
Some of the most important questions are never asked during the procurement process simply because many people don’t know what questions to ask:
What is the warranty? (Our Duritium III+PA and Duritium III+PS plates offer a 15-YEAR WARRANTY! That’s 3 times the industry standard warranty.)
Can this plate crack? (Ceramic plates not only weigh 2-3 times more than polyethylene armor, but they also have the potential for cracking, degrading the plate’s ballistic protection.)
Is the plate “Berry Compliant”? (The Berry Amendment requires the Department of Defense to give preference in procurement to domestically produced, manufactured, or home-grown products. While this may not be a requirement for law enforcement, it is extremely important because it is well known that the materials from non-compliant markets, which many of the discount armor plate manufacturers use, have documented consistency and integrity issues.)