The advent of social media has often cast an unflattering eye on police officers, calling their actions into question almost daily, but what about the other side of that fence? What dangers do law enforcement professionals face in every traffic stop and in every arrest? A look at how police officers think may reveal a reason to behaviors that may seem arbitrary, but, in fact, are intended to ensure a maximum level of safety for everyone.
The most obvious threat facing police officers is the danger posed by suspects out on the streets and, as The Balance shares, even that threat can be factored into a number of perilous question marks. The encounter may begin with a simple traffic stop and elevate into an arrest situation or an officer may be taking a suspect into custody for questioning, but, in any case, the question of whether the individual will resist must be faced.
Will he/she be armed? With a gun? A knife? A chemical weapon?
Between 1980 and 2014, an average of 64 police officers were killed per year in the United States. That doesn’t seem like much, considering there are over 1 million law enforcement officers working in this country, but, when taking assaults into account, the threat of violence against officers becomes significantly greater. In 2013 alone, almost 50,000 police officers were assaulted on the job.
Accidents Do Happen
Those 64 deaths previously mentioned are only a fraction of the total police officer deaths accounted for within that time frame. There was a total of 144 job-related deaths, indicating that 80 deaths occurred as a result of something other than conflicts with suspects. Whether by a person, an accident, or an unforeseen incident, each officer faces concern that he/she may die on the job on any given day.
Mother Nature Doesn’t Respect The Law Of Man
Lodi News reveals that police officers face dangers posed by nature, even as the officers may be concerned with apprehending a suspect. Of particular concern is heat stroke and exposure to the sun’s rays, which may cause a variety of health concerns, while out on the streets. Even in northern climates, inclement weather poses a danger to officers daily.
Traffic Is A Threat In Itself
Much of the police officer’s work day is spent out on the road, so traffic stops are just one aspect of road life that can serve to endanger a police officer’s life. Auto accidents can occur even to the best drivers, so law enforcement officers are aware that their special status doesn’t protect them from accidental injury or death.
Even the biggest, most burly officer is still a human being with a whole host of emotions coloring his/her thoughts at any given moment. On top of those personal feelings, officers face the ugliest parts of humanity on a daily basis. They see the darkest parts of man from rape and murder to homelessness and drug addiction. This goes a long way toward explaining why 120 to 150 police officers take their own lives each year.
These are just a few of the factors running through every police officer’s mind, when interacting with the public. A greater insight into the mind of the police officer explains why they behave the way they do and why arrests can be some of the most anxious human encounters in today’s society.