According to the FBI, 106 police officers nationwide lost their lives on the job in 2018, and in 2017, more than 60,000 officers were assault victims. If you are a police officer in California, you will know the stress that comes with not knowing who and what you will encounter on the next call. Will it be welcoming or threatening?
Each encounter with citizens comes with the risk of being assaulted or even killed. However, as a police officer, people are not the sole source of work-related hazards you must deal with daily. Accidents are the primary cause of death among police officers, many of which are misunderstood.
It starts with training
If you came through training unscathed, you are fortunate, and it means you faced all the following risks without suffering injuries:
- Police training includes intense and physical rigors.
- Along with physical fitness training, there are defensive tactics, firearm training and active-shooter response — all of it potentially dangerous.
- Adherence to safety protocols is crucial — from training through active duty.
It is a good idea to know that the safety standards are there to protect you, but also understand that, even with all the protocols in place, the job remains dangerous.
The traffic threat
Statistics show that traffic-related accidents are the leading cause of officer deaths over recent years. Here are the reasons:
- A significant part of every shift will have you driving, making you more vulnerable to road accidents.
- If your duties include traffic enforcement, the risk will increase.
- High-speed pursuits and emergency response situations are often life-threatening.
- Attending to crashes, or doing duty at traffic stops, increases your vulnerability of inattentive or impaired drivers striking you.
For police officers, hazards exist whether they are inside or outside their vehicles.
One of the least recognized and understood hazards for law enforcement is the link between their jobs and their health. Note the following dangers:
- Rotating shifts lead to fatigue due to interrupted and poor sleeping habits. Officer fatigue makes you more vulnerable on the job.
- The unpredictability and lack of routine of your job can lead to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits, both of which can cause life-threatening diseases.
- The stress of never knowing where the next call will take you, and the trauma of dealing with death and the distress of loved ones, can lead to PTSD and other mental health problems.
Your family and friends might be the first ones to notice red flags — listen to them and seek counseling.
This is a risk that is often left unmentioned while talking about it, and taking action can save your life. Here are the reasons for the high numbers of police officer suicides reported each year:
- Reportedly, the rate of suicides in law enforcement is approximately 17 in every 100,000 police officers per year.
- The causes include excessive levels of stress, witnessing, and dealing with dangerous and often frightening incidents that involve destruction and horrific scenes of traumatic injuries and death.
- Threats by angry citizens, intoxicated bystanders and more is a possibility with every call.
The combination of these factors often leads to PTSD and, ultimately, suicide — if you do not seek help.
While you risk your life to protect others, the California workers’ compensation system is ready to provide financial assistance in the event of an injury. Further help is available from an attorney who focuses on protecting the rights of those who protect the communities. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will be your advocate and assist along every step of the way in pursuit of maximum benefits under applicable state laws.