State data show assaults on police on the decline in NC
Posted July 12, 2016
Despite the horror of the sniper attack that claimed the lives of five Dallas police officers last week, assaults on law enforcement officers are rare and, in North Carolina, have dropped over the past decade.
Yet it can still be a dangerous job: some of the state's largest law enforcement agencies track hundreds of assaults annually.
In its annual crime reporting data, the State Bureau of Investigation tracks scores of key statistics on arrests and offenses, as well as assaults on officers. The most recent report, from the year 2014, shows these assaults are on a downward trend, even as the number of officers on the beat has grown.
Largest number of assaults by agency
Unsurprisingly, the agencies suffering the most assaults are those that serve some of the state's largest metropolitan areas.
The top 5 in 2014, for example, include police departments in Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Wilmington. In all of these cases, the vast majority of assaults are attacks from hands and feet rather than firearms, which made up about 7 percent of assaults in Charlotte in 2014.
|Agency||Sworn officers||Firearm||Knife or Other Cutting Instrument||Other Dangerous Weapon||Hands, Fists, Feet, etc||Total||Year|
|Cumberland Co. Sheriff||312||2||0||4||36||42||2014|
|Iredell Co. Sheriff||162||4||0||0||35||39||2014|
|Guilford Co. Sheriff||255||4||0||5||26||35||2014|
Highest rates of assault by population
When adjusted for population, however, there's a lot more variation in the top 10 from year to year.
The figures below show assault rates per 10,000 people, adjusted for the size of the population each agency serves. Smaller agencies that serve fewer than 1,000 people were omitted, since their relatively small number of assaults can skew the comparison.
|Agency||Population||Assault rate||Firearm||Knife or Other Cutting Instrument||Other Dangerous Weapon||Hands, Fists, Feet, etc||Total||Officers||Year|
Statewide, assaults have fallen amid growth of police ranks
Although the total number of assaults reported on officers since 2004 has decreased overall, the drop is slightly more dramatic when accounting for the increase in the number of sworn officers patrolling the streets.
Reporting through this program is optional, so this count includes the almost 400 agencies statewide that reported assault and personnel data for the entire 10-year period.
Not all agencies seeing decline
Defying the statewide trend, there are agencies that have seen an increase in assaults on officers over the past decade. Among the state's 100 largest agencies that consistently reported over the 10-year period, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office has seen the sharpest rise in those assaults relative to its about 100-officer force since 2004.
The agency is followed by Duke University, which saw eight officer assaults in 2014 for their 56 sworn officers.
Find your agency's assault data
Search the hundreds of law enforcement agencies who at least periodically report assaults and personnel information to the SBI, by total number of assaults and assaults per 100 officers. Years with no data indicate missing reports.