Thursday, June 29, 2017

Damn Lies and Statistics

*Updated 12/31/2017*
It's been rough out there.
Despite the new figures for 2017, showing a decline from last year's startling line-of-duty death statistics, the bad guys squeezed in a few last blows. This morning,a young husband and father was ambushed and killed in Colorado. Four of his fellow officers are hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
When I first published this post in June, 2017,four officers have been shot in one day-- one at either end of California, and two in San Antonio.
Another California deputy was shot with his own weapon by an 'unarmed' man the day before that, and so was a CO in Tennessee.

While I wait for word about their prospects for recovery , that list of 'Most Dangerous Jobs' comes to mind.
You know the one: every keyboard commando and cop hater on the planet keeps it bookmarked.

Loggers. Commercial Fishermen. Roofers. Truckers. Pilots. Farmers.

All honorable and necessary professions.
All risky. No argument there.
But that's not the point, at all. There IS a point, and people who compare those risky, honorable professions to the hazards of law enforcement are missing it.
The refrain is getting old --
"Being a cop isn't even dangerous. More (fill in the blank with career choice) die every year than cops."
Way to misuse statistics.
Without getting into a lecture about trendlines, working analogies, margins of error, gross numbers vs. per capita or per hundred-thousand, and the like, let's just get to that point.

Casualties in all those other occupations represent industrial accident.
No crab pot, bucket of hot tar, snapped cable, or toxic manure pit sets out to kill the fisherman,roofer, logger or farmer because they're at work.
Trucks don't jack knife because they had a bad driver once, their truck friend got impounded last week, and this driver said something they don't like.

There's nothing personal about mechanical failure, or the fact of gravity.
Malice is the exclusive purview of humans.
Some police officers die in very sad accidents, or of the frailty of their regrettably human bodies.
The rest are murdered.
It's not the same, at all.

There's more to that refrain up there ^^ It goes like this:
"But fewer cops die in the line of duty now than ever before in history!!"
And that's true.
It's also true that fewer infantry soldiers and Marines die in combat than ever in history, and for the same reasons, but no reasonable person argues that war is 'safe'.

So, what are those reasons, anyway?
1. Ballistic armor, and
2. Faster access to ever more sophisticated trauma care.
That's it.
"Less death" doesn't equal "safe".

I know I said I wouldn't talk about trendlines, but here's one anyway.
Take a look.

See when that trend peaks, and then really starts to fall? That's the mid-1970s, when ballistic armor first became widely available for law enforcement agencies to purchase.

When you can look at numbers reflecting officers attacked who survive, the numbers are holding steady, for years now.
There are thousands of officers, and their families, who face down life-altering, sometimes career-ending, wounds every year, utterly unnoticed by the public.

They're real, with real people who love them, the ones who fall, and those who survive to battle on.

Challenge the propaganda.
Break the silence.
They're worth it. You're worth it.