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Officer Criteria

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Note: During the last two 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 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA). Those changes, as well as the dates the changes 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:

  • Were acting in an official capacity, whether on or off duty. 
  • Were duly sworn and had full arrest powers. 
  • Wore/carried a badge and a firearm (ordinarily). 
  • Were members of a public governmental law enforcement agency and were paid from government funds set aside specifically for payment to sworn law enforcement representatives. 
  • Died as a result of injuries incurred while acting in an official capacity. (This does not include deaths from natural causes, e.g., heart attack, stroke, or aneurism; personal situations, e.g., domestic violence or neighbor conflict; or suicide.)

Job positions not typically included in the LEOKA Program’s statistics follow:

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

Special Functions Exceptions

In September 2014, the LEOKA Program expanded its collection criteria to include the data of individuals who are killed or assaulted while temporarily serving as a law enforcement officer at the request of a law enforcement agency whose officers meet the general current collection criteria. These individuals must be under the supervision of a certified law enforcement officer from the requesting agency at the time of the incident, but they are not required to be in the physical presence of the supervisory officer while they are working an assigned duty. The data of individuals who met this exception, and were submitted in 2015 or later, are included in this publication.

Example of permitted exception: 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.

In February 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) who are killed or assaulted while performing law enforcement functions and/or duties and who are not in a military combat or deployed-for-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. The collection of these data also began in 2016, and the FBI will begin publishing them in 2017.

Example of permitted exception: A correctional officer was fatally shot while assisting local law enforcement agencies who 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.)