Police are safer under Obama than they have been in decades

It’s worth pointing out that in 2016, year-to-date officer fatalities via shooting only are up 44 percent over last year, according to the numbers compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund. But that’s partially an illustration of how sensitive these numbers are to individual incidents: if you set the Dallas shootings aside, the year-over-year increase is only 17 percent. And as Eugene Volokh points out, the 2016 numbers are roughly on par with the numbers for the past 10 years.

These figures in the chart above include all incidents in which a suspect intended to kill a police officer — shootings, stabbings, assaults, bombings, and vehicular assaults. They exclude things like accidental shootings, job-related illnesses and traffic accidents. If you were to narrow it down to just shootings, the overall trend would be roughly the same: from 80 deaths annually under Reagan to 48 annually under Obama. Again, factoring in the 2016 shooting numbers, including Dallas, has a negligible effect on the average under Obama.

These falling fatality numbers aren’t simply a function of better medical care for injured officers: overall assaults on officers are down too. In 1988, the last year of the Reagan administration, there were 15.9 assaults for every 100 sworn law enforcement officers according to the FBI. In 2000, at the end of the Clinton administration, there were 12.7 assaults for every 100 officers. By the end of the Bush administration that number fell further to 11.3. Under Obama in 2014, the most recent year for which the FBI has data, that number further fell to 9.0.