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Officer Criteria

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General Criteria

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

  • Wore/carried badges (ordinarily).
  • Carried firearms (ordinarily).
  • Were duly sworn and had full arrest powers.
  • Were members of law enforcement agencies.
  • Were acting in an official capacity, whether on or off duty, at the time of incidents.
  • If killed, died from injuries directly related to the incidents.

An exception to the above criteria includes individuals who were killed or assaulted while acting in law enforcement capacities at the request of law enforcement agencies whose officers meet the LEOKA criteria. (See below for further explanation in reference to this exception.)

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):

  • Corrections/correctional officers
  • Bailiffs
  • Probation/parole officers
  • Federal judges
  • U.S. and Assistant U.S. Attorneys
  • Bureau of Prison officers
  • Private security officers

Special Functions Exception

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 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.

Example of permitted exception: 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.)