This article is going to be an in-depth look at the statistics related to some of the worst criminals, cop killers. Every five years or so the FBI compiles a list of all cases where a criminal kills a cop in the line of duty, and publishes a report detailing their findings. Let me say that they are shocking, and many of them go against the conventional wisdom police officers and responsibly armed citizens currently believe about criminals. Keep reading to see how this data will affect you, and your weapons training.
In a previous life, I was an intelligence officer in the Marine Corps, and it was my job to provide threat analysis regarding current tactics, techniques, and procedures about the enemy. This will be something like that, with a few differences, obviously criminal gang members and murderers aren’t like the Taliban (the Taliban like to date goats), but there are a surprising amount of commonalities between the two groups.
If you want to read the full 160 page report here is the link.
This section will cover some basic background and statistical data about the officers.
Average Victim Officer: 98% Males, 2% Female
Average Age: 35
Height/Weight: 5’11, 197 lbs
Race: 90% white
Education: 50% had high school diploma, 50% had a college degree
Upon reviewing more detailed demographic information, it becomes clear that the majority of these officer’s were older, and better educated than their offender.
The vast majority of these cases were also against officers in uniform, 42%. The rest were detectives and other plain clothes assignments. The average time on the job was 9 years as an officer.
Almost all of these officers had also been in life threatening scenarios before, and some had even been in previous shootings. They were described by their fellow officers as hardworking, and tough; however, there was a common theme indicating that they did not always follow correct safety procedures, for transports, arrests, and other similar situations.
The offenders were predominantly males who were previously arrested numerous times, sometimes as many as 10 times previously.
Sex: 95% Males, 5% Female
Age: 26 years old
Race: 51% White, 49% non white
Size: 6’0, 175lbs
Education: only 14% had high school diploma, 4% had college degree
The offender’s backgrounds are universally terrible. They grew up in broken homes where drugs, and crime were ever-present factors of life. Many of them were thrown out of their homes during their teenage years.
Their criminal histories were quite lengthy, with the average age of the first offense being 11 years of age, 9 for gang members. They most often committed larceny, and most were not punished for that first violation.
As you might expect, the majority of the offenders reported regular drug and alcohol use; however, approximately 40% reported no use. Likewise, a large chunk of the 43 offenders reported gang affiliation, and approximately 10 of those 43 were veterans of the US military.
During the interview process, the investigators questioned the offenders on their previous crimes, and received these astounding numbers for crimes that they could find no arrest records for.
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This lends some insight into why they are so willing to commit crime. They are rarely caught for it. Read this excerpt from one of the offenders to see just what type of person we are dealing with.
“Yeah, I mean, we was making a lot of money on the corner. The corner was doing something nice. We were making a lot of money on that corner, but there ain’t nothing like a little extra dough. I mean, you know, you might hear that there’s another drug corner, and they might be making five g’s a day out there. Let’s ride through there and we used to ride through other drug corners and lay like mad people on the ground. You know, anybody get up off the ground, he get shot. There was a time when me and my right-hand man, we lay like ten people on the ground, and out of the ten people, one person got up and started running. He got shot all in his back. I mean, that’s the way it go. We empty the pockets, take the drugs; we take whatever they got on them. The drugs, the guns, the money, the weed, all that stuff. We take it all. Even if it’s a nice leather jacket, we’d take that off his back. He might have a leather jacket on that cost $2,000; we take it all. That don’t mean that we’ll wear it, but we’ll take it and sell it or give it to somebody we know, a friend, a girlfriend, whoever. Pack all that stuff in the back of the car and ride. Go to the next corner. There were times we’d rob corners all night, all night, and go home and have all the stuff and put it all on the bed and basically divide it and after doing all that and putting so much work in, you go to sleep. Get something to eat and go to sleep.”
There are a couple of things I’d like to highlight here. The willingness to use violence in furtherance of their own, and the gang’s goals is chilling. This offender is talking about murdering huge numbers of people with no appreciable concern that this kind of behavior is not normal because, to him it is normal.
This section will cover some specifics regarding each case to see if we can make any broad conclusions.
Timeframe: approximately 40% of murders occurred during evening hours
Event Type: Disturbance Call, In Progress Crime, Arrest
Most Common Assault Location: Roadway
Other Present: In approximately 40% of incidents there were other officers or other persons present
These stats highlight that evening timeframes are the most common time for these violent events to occur. They are also not likely to be one on one scenarios.
For the armed citizen this is generally good news, as most of the common events were police specific, i.e, joe citizen isn’t getting called to handle a domestic dispute; however, since the street was the most common location of occurrence, that does increase the likelihood that an armed citizen might be present during a violent event.
This section will cover the types of weapons used by the offenders, the caliber, and their previous experience with them.
Most common weapon: pistol
Most common caliber: 9mm
Most Common Areas of Concealment: Front waistband/crotch, small of back
18 of 50 officers had been in previous shootings
16 of 43 offenders had received weapons training
37 of 43 offenders regularly carried their weapon
Hit rate offender on officer: 68%
Hit rate officer on offender: 39%
Average range: 15ft
Most common offender shooting method: point shooting
Percent of legally acquired gun used by offender: 0%
These are some fairly startling statistics, but lets unpack some of them to see what we can learn. During the interviews the offenders stated that they selected their weapons based on what was available. They didn’t endlessly ponder on what caliber or type of weapon they should get, they just bought what was available.
It’s also commonly thought that these types of dirt bags don’t practice or have any training with their weapons. This is patently false. I’m not suggesting that they are going to IDPA matches, and getting some good training, but they do have others in their gang they teach them methods that work on the street. Don’t forget those that served in the military!
While some of us shooting snobs might scoff at their techniques, they were good enough to win a gunfight with a police officer. Police officers aren’t always the best shooters, but they are probably better than the average concealed carry holder.
They also universally bought their weapons off of the black market, with none reporting a legal purchase. They also reported that the easiest way to obtain a weapon was to burglarize a home. They estimated that they would find a gun in about 80% of houses if they chose them carefully.
Offender’s had a higher hit rate because they almost always shot first. Many of these criminals have learned that aggression and violence are key to survival, and they are not constrained by laws or other’s welfare. If they hit a bystander, they couldn’t care less.
The offenders stated that they didn’t attempt to aim, they simply pointed the weapon and shot. They stated that their goal was to initially disable their victim, and if they wanted to kill them they could do so much easier after wounding them.
There is also good research showing that inexperienced shooters can point shoot very accurately at close distances. Often times just as accurately as trained marksmen.
Analysis and Recommendations
Many of these stats are in line with a previous article that covered the 17 most important gunfight stats, but there are some differences. These stats highlight the fact that real gunfights are occurring on the street at 5 yards; however, they are most commonly initiated by the criminal which leaves us, the good guys, in a real pickle.
The study highlighted that there were several cues that these criminals were armed, that officer’s failed to pick up on. They reported that the offender would often blade the weapon away from the officer, and would touch or readjust the weapon to assure themselves that it was still secure. No criminal in this study used a holster.
This highlights the fact that we aren’t going to win this encounter with pure gunfighting skills. This fight is going to be won prior to shots being fired. The researchers emphasized that identifying suspicious bulges, or clothing appearances in the commonly carried positions was key, as well as the physical indicators of checking or touching their weapon.
I would bet if you are reading this article then you are no stranger to concealed carry. Think about the actions that you do when you carry. I know when I get out of my truck I always pull my shirt over my gun, and I do touch my weapon from time to time to make sure it hasn’t moved in the holster. Criminals do the same things, so pay attention! This video highlights some of those clues.
One trick I find that helps me stay alert, especially during shifts as a police officer, is the gun game. Sorry I don’t have a fancier name for it, but it is pretty simple. When I’m in an area with a lot of people, I say to myself that there is a gun on one of these people, and I try to pick the one I think is most likely to be armed. There’s nothing saying you can’t do this when you’re out and about going to your furries conventions.
I would also recommend staying away from dangerous neighborhoods if at all possible. Most metropolitan areas have criminal databases that the public can view. These show when and where what types of crime occur. You will notice patterns. Keep out of those areas, and you are much less likely to be victimized.
There are several resources that I would like to recommend for those that really want to improve their concealed carry, and self-defense skills. The first is a book by Kyle Lamb (Former Delta Shooter) called “Stay in the Fight! A Warrior’s Guide to Combat Pistol.” (Amazon Affiliate Link) We appreciate the support!
The second resource is a podcast I regularly listen to called, “The American Warrior Society.” The host Mike Seeklander is a former Marine, nationally ranked competitive shooter, and former police officer. The podcast has great guests from Tier 1 shooters, to knife experts, and many others. Check it out, I’m a huge fan. Here’s a quick video talking about AWS.
This report can be a downer to read, but it is invaluable to those of us who choose to carry a gun, or do so because it’s our duty. We owe it to ourselves and the community to continue improving our proficiency with our weapons.
The average time officers practiced in this study was 14 hours per year. That is horrendous. If you carry a weapon, you need a higher level of proficiency, but as this study showed, being a gun slinger is not enough.
You’re ability to identify threats before critical events occur is key. So engage your brain before you engage your weapon, and hopefully you won’t have to do the latter.