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The ways people attempt to twist numbers is appalling.

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In May, the FBI released preliminary statistics for the number of law enforcement officers killed in 2014. For the most part, reputable publications stuck to the FBI’s release: Officer deaths were up from 2013 to 2014, but still below average.

A few rapscallions, either out of ignorance or an intentional want for the numbers to fit their personal narrative, did not quite stick to the script laid out before them. Yes, they highlighted the year-to-year rise, but they also hid or failed to mention the fact that 2014’s law enforcement deaths were still below average. For them, be they bloggers or extremely vocal Facebookers, the year-to-year rise would make it plain and obvious that the masses were rising up to murder cops everywhere.

And who knows, maybe there is a conspiracy to rise up and destroy the system. But you know what? The numbers provided by the FBI don’t come close to proving that. If you say otherwise, you are a liar.

Just to make extra sure, let’s take a look at those numbers.

51 officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014, and 27 were killed in the line of duty in 2013. This is a pretty jarring rise — 89 percent.

But looking at the bigger picture, it seems significantly less staggering: from 1980 to 2014, an average of 64 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed per year.

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In fact, 2013’s numbers were the lowest in 35 years. To use them as a representation of “normal” would be misguided.


If you feel a 35-year period isn’t representative of the present day, the 10-year average is slightly above 53 and the 5-year average is 51.

And while 2013 only saw 27 officers feloniously killed in the line of duty, 2012 saw 49, 2011 saw 72 and 2010 saw 56.

So while 51 officer deaths in 2014 is too many, it is not indicative of anything significant. It’s actually quite average, and doesn’t appear to speak on or represent the current cultural backlash against police officers in America.

To be absolutely clear, for me, any number of officer deaths is too many. I feel the same way about civilian deaths at the hands of officers. Too often, these two ideas are put at odds, when they should go hand in hand.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Chicago hasn’t lost an officer since 2011.

Let’s hope that trend continues.

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Mason Johnson is a Web Content Producer for CBS Chicago. You can find him on Twitter.