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More Police Officers Were Shot in 2020, Fewer Died

There was an increase in shootings of police officers in 2020, but fewer died, reports The Trace, citing a forthcoming paper analyzing Gun Violence Archive data, by criminologists Michael Sierra-Arévalo, Brad O’Guinn, and Justin Nix. Shooting deaths in the line of duty declined from 2018 through 2020 while firearm assaults on officers increased by 31 percent between 2014 and 2020, ultimately reaching the highest level in the seven-year period. In the same time span, 283 officers were fatally shot on duty, compared with 1,485 who were shot but survived.


The paper found that an officer’s proximity to trauma care facilities did not increase chances for survival. Though that link has been observed among civilians, the authors suggest police access to specialized safety and medical equipment may in part outweigh the importance of a nearby trauma center. The authors called for investigation of the disparity between a decline in fatal shootings of police officers in 2020 amid a broader spike in both fatal and nonfatal shootings that year. They recommend that all officers be required to use bulletproof vests and carry tourniquets they’ve been trained to use.

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