We really need to consider militarizing truck drivers, roofers and garbage men — because all of these professions are more dangerous, and generally pay less, than police work. Yes, it’s really true — check out this little graph that we compiled using fatality statistics from the most dangerous jobs in America and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. Most of it is current to 2011…except for that tiny, dark red part that says “2013”:
It’s true, law enforcement used to be a fairly dangerous job; at least, as dangerous as driving a truck over the road, or a taxi in New York City. And back in the early 1980s, it might almost have been as dangerous as throwing garbage into the back of a truck. But even in 2011, when officer deaths peaked to the highest point they’d been in at least 5 years, the second highest point since the September 11th attacks…herding sheep in Utah was still more dangerous than being a cop.
These days, we’re awash with stories of military surplus material trickling down to police departments, and police randomly killing people because “they felt threatened.” But whether they’re justified “by the book,” or more laughably by the judges and administrators they work for, the fact is that police have for many decades been using the “danger” of police work to justify gunning down members of the public.
But according to them, they need tactics like justified murder — because it’s getting worse. Right? No, not exactly. In fact, police officers’ jobs are getting easier. Check out this graph, bearing in mind that this is not adjusted for population increases; it’s just the raw numbers.
Step back a pace, and you’ll probably notice there’s something of a trend here. Total crime and violent crime have been on the decrease since 1988, and the average number of police officer deaths have declined at almost the exact same rate. So, less crime, fewer cops getting killed. But you’ve probably noticed a few odd little descrepancies here.
At three points on the graph (most clearly from 1989 to the passage of the Brady Bill in 1994), violent crime and total crime went up…while police fatalities went down. It happened again in 2004, and again in 2011. Matter of fact, right now, police officer deaths are plummeting far faster than the overall crime rate — enough so that being a cop, right now, is about as dangerous as telemarketing. And it’s half as dangerous as just having any job in North Dakota.
You can probably guess how many of those pay more than the $50,000 a year cops make on average.
With police killing Americans at a rate never before seen in history, and justifying by citing a “fear for their lives,” you can’t help but wonder when making police-work a “zero-risk proposition” (Bill Maher) became a higher priority that protecting the public. Seems that if we really wanted to cut down on the number of deaths in America, we should be giving bullet-proof vests to roofers and MRAPs to truck drivers. And we’d bet those ex-military machine-guns would come in handy chopping down trees.
Because, as Bill Maher and his panel discuss below — it’s damned sure the cops don’t have a reason to militarize, or “go mental” to “protect themselves” these days.