Statistically, it’s getting safer to be a cop. Fewer police officers were killed on the job in 2015 than the prior year, and while assaults on police rose slightly, they were still lower than any prior year in the past decade except for 2014, according to statistics released by the FBI on Wednesday.
There were 41 killings of police officers in 2015, down from 51 the previous year. Both numbers are in line with homicide rates over the past decade, which ranged between 41 and 58, except for two outliers: 72 officers were killed in 2011 and just 27 in 2013.
Assaults on cops, on the other hand, are up: 50,212 in 2015, an uptick from 48,315 the year before. That brings the rate of assault to 9.9 per 100 officers. But that, too, is the second-lowest total in the past decade.
More police were killed accidentally, 45 in total, than by criminals during ambushes, traffic pursuits, tactical situations, and domestic disturbance calls. Most of the accidental deaths were vehicle-related, while two were accidental shootings.
The majority of the officers who died, 38, were killed by guns, most of them handguns. By region, the South had the highest number of cops killed, 19, followed by nine in the West, five in the Midwest, four in the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico.
The FBI collects the data from a mixture of county, state, and city agencies and nonprofits, all of which are tallied up in the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report.
Despite high-profile police killings each year — like the three officers killed in Baton Rouge and the five in Dallas in July — police officer is far down the list of America’s deadliest jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It doesn’t even crack the top 10. Topping the list are lumberjacks, fishing workers, aircraft pilots, roofers, and miners.
Still ahead of police are farmers, ranchers, construction workers, electrical workers, and taxi drivers.