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Officer Criteria

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Note: During the last 2 years, the FBI has implemented two changes to the employment and service criteria of law enforcement officers that determine whether the data concerning their death or assault will be included in the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) publication. Those changes, as well as the dates they took effect, are outlined below.

General criteria

The data in this publication pertain to felonious deaths, accidental deaths, and assaults of duly sworn city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement officers who, at the time of the incident, met the following criteria. These law enforcement officers:

  • Wore/carried a badge (ordinarily), 
  • Carried a firearm (ordinarily), 
  • Were duly sworn and had full arrest powers, 
  • Were members of public governmental law enforcement agencies and were paid from government funds set aside specifically for payment to sworn law enforcement, 
  • Were acting in an official capacity, whether on or off duty, at the time of the incident, and 
  • If killed, the deaths were directly related to the injuries received during the incidents. 

Exception to the above-listed criteria

Beginning January 1, 2015, the LEOKA Program effected an exception to its collection criteria to include the data of individuals who are killed or assaulted while serving as a law enforcement officer at the request of a law enforcement agency whose officers meet the current collection criteria. (Special circumstances are reviewed by LEOKA staff on a case-by-case basis to determine inclusion.)

Example 1: An unpaid reserve officer responded to a structure fire along with a law enforcement officer. As the reserve officer exited the patrol unit, he was immediately confronted in an ambush style attack and was fatally shot by the offender.

Example 2: A correctional officer was fatally shot while assisting local law enforcement agencies that were tracking a man wanted for murdering his parents. The officer was a canine handler at a local correctional facility and was asked to assist during the incident based on the need for the canine. If the correctional officer was working in his/her normal capacity as a correctional officer when killed, that correctional officer would not be counted in the LEOKA Program’s statistics.

Addition to the LEOKA Program’s data collection

Effective March 23, 2016, the LEOKA Program expanded its collection criteria to include the data of military and civilian police and law enforcement officers of the Department of Defense (DoD), while performing a law enforcement function/duty, who are not in a combat or deployed (sent outside of the United States for a specific military support role mission) status. This includes DoD police and law enforcement officers who perform policing and criminal investigative functions while stationed (not deployed) on overseas bases, just as if they were based in the United States.

Exclusions from the LEOKA Program’s data collection

Deaths resulting from the following are not included in the LEOKA Program’s statistics:

  • Natural causes such as heart attack, stroke, aneurism, etc. 
  • On duty, but death is attributed to their own personal situation such as domestic violence, neighbor conflict, etc. 
  • Suicide. 

Examples of job positions not typically included in the LEOKA Program’s statistics (unless they meet the above exception) follow:

  • Corrections/correctional officers. 
  • Bailiffs. 
  • Parole/probation officers. 
  • Federal judges. 
  • U.S. and Assistant U.S. Attorneys. 
  • Bureau of Prison officers.