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The Wild, Wild West


Dick Fairburn

In my first piece for the BowMac Blog, I discussed the threat of ambush attacks on US Police Officers. The highest number of officers killed in an ambush prior to 2021 had been 15, on a couple of recent years. The number of ambush killings in 2021 won’t be codified by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report for a few months, but my unofficial count will at least double the previous record of 15. Overall, as many as 100 officers were feloniously murdered in 2021. Who says there is no war on police?

The all-time record of officers murdered in the line of duty is 132 back in 1973. The trend line of murdered officers goes steadily down from that year, with the normal statistical ups and downs. So, even if 100 officers were murdered last year, it is still below the record of 132, right?

No! Comparing 2021 to 1973 is like comparing apples to oranges. In 1973, soft, concealable body armor did not exist. Rich Davis started developing the first vests, made from nylon fabric, in 1979, as I recall. If you average out the number of police officer “saves” claimed in the records of the DuPont/IACP Survivor’s Club, it figures out to 90+ officers per year.

In 1973, we did not have Level 1 Trauma Centers, Paramedics or Life Flight choppers. We have no way of knowing how many officers now survive from wounds which would have been fatal in 1973, but I suspect the number is even bigger than the body armor saves. For the sake of argument, let’s assume 100 officers per year live because of our modern Emergency Medical System.

Those factors suggests that a like comparison of felonious deaths of police officers in 2021 would elevate the total to 290+ had they occurred in 1973. More than double the old record of 132.

Historians like to paint a picture of the settling of our western states as wild and wooly, with gunfights breaking out every night in every cow town. Actually, those towns were much safer than today’s streets in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Chicago or LA. The most violent time in US history is NOW, for both police officers and citizens. Just in carjackings alone, Chicago is starting to look like a Mad Max movie.

This points to dark days ahead for police officers. Any wonder recruiting is in the shitter? But all branches of public safety are at risk. Several ambush attacks in the last decade have begun with an arson fire to lure in first responders. They shot firefighters first then turned on the police officers who soon arrived. Paramedics have been harmed as they try to treat citizens and other first responders on our violent streets.

Here is the even worse side of the LEOKA statistics. For every officer killed in an ambush several more are the victims of an unsuccessful ambush attack. The real number of ambush attacks is several times the number which result in dead officers – because they were saved by their body armor, the EMS system or … by their survival attitude which allowed the officers to counterattack the ambush and survive! Often killing the animals who tried to kill them.

For ALL first responders, we are currently experiencing the wild, wild west we only saw before in movies. Look out for each other – Police, Fire and EMS. Any serious call must get a multi-discipline response as much as we can. The short staffing in law enforcement has (so far) not carried over to Fire/EMS, but their danger levels on the street has risen dramatically as well.

Protect each other out there!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BowMac Educational Services / RSI Inc.

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by Dick Fairburn As I mentioned in Blog #1 last month, so far in 2021 we are already well into record territory for the number of officers ambushed in the US and the number of officers killed by gunfi


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