Crime

When a Colorado Police Officer Is Most Likely to Be Assaulted

When a Colorado Police Officer Is Most Likely to Be Assaulted
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All too often these days, we hear about police violence against suspects, as in the 2015 fatal officer-involved shooting of seventeen-year-old Jessie Hernandez, which recently led to a City of Denver settlement of just under $1 million. But there are plenty of times when cops are the victims of violence from individuals they encounter, as is made clear by some startling statistics shared by the Colorado Springs Police Department.

According to FBI data detailed in a series of graphics on view below, more than 1,000 Colorado police officers have been assaulted annually in recent years, with most of those attacks taking place late at night or early in the morning.

The details provided by the CSPD focus on 2015, the most recent year for which stats are available. They pertain to the state as a whole, not simply Colorado Springs.

The first graphic breaks down assaults against officers over the decade stretching from 2006 to 2015. The first two years of that span saw more than 900 attacks on cops. After that, the digits dropped into the 700 and 800 range for five years before jumping over 1,000 in 2013 and rising each of the next two years, topping out at 1,151 in 2015.

That year, assaults with personal injury reached a ten-year peak of 632, and the number of Colorado officers killed, four, was higher than in any year during the decade other than 2012, when six officers died.

Here's the breakdown.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Police Department
The times of day when assaults on officers took place in 2015 suggest that the safest hours for cops are between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., with 31 attacks — the fewest of any two-hour block.

The dangers increase beginning in the late afternoon. The stats show that 130 assaults on officers occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., with the same number taking place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. before reaching their apex of 147 in the 8-10 p.m. period.

At 140 and 129 assaults, respectively, the 10 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 2 a.m. blocks were nearly as likely to result in suspect-against-cop violence.

Here's a graphic on this topic.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Police Department
The types of call to which officers respond also factor into assaults.

The stats show that disturbance calls are by far the most likely to result in a suspect attacking an officer, which make sense given that in such circumstances, emotions typically run high. The number of assaults in those situations was 336 in 2015.

The next-highest total that year was related to handling prisoners, another tense activity with plenty of opportunities for outbursts. This duty led to 201 assaults.

Here's the complete roster.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Police Department
The next category, "Officers Assaulted by Type of Assignment," pertains to whether officers or detectives are alone or teamed with a partner.

Unsurprisingly, soloing cops are the most susceptible to assault. Officers alone in a vehicle were attacked 411 times when assisted — backups are frequently called when there are problems — and 293 times when totally on their own.

By comparison, pairs of cops assigned to a vehicle were tied to 107 assaults in 2015.

Here are those stats.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Police Department
The final category looks at weapon types.

Firearms were used against police officers in Colorado 93 times during 2015, with a knife deployed 51 times — and 202 cops were attacked using unspecified "other" weapons.

Still, the simplest kinds of weapons — those already attached to our bodies — accounted for the greatest number of assaults by far. On 805 occasions, officers were attacked by suspects who used their hands, fists or feet.

See those numbers below.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Courtesy of the Colorado Springs Police Department

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts