A COMPARISON OF CHANGES IN POLICE AND GENERAL HOMICIDES: 1930–1998*

Authors


  • *

    We thank Craig Floyd, Director of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, for providing us the data on officers killed in the line of duty, and Bernie Spence, Director of Research for the NLEOMF, for her assistance. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Points of view are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Justice or the National Institute of Justice.

  • Robert Kaminski is a Social Science Analyst with the Office of Research and Evaluation, National Institute of Justice, and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Criminal Justice, the University at Albany. His main research interests are violence against the police, police use of force, and the effects of the media on public perceptions of the police. Direct correspondence to Robert Kaminski, National Institute of Justice, 810 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20531, kaminski@ojp.usdoj.gov.

  • Thomas Marvell is a sociologist/lawyer and is director of Justec Research. His main interests are court operations and analysis of crime trends. The data and basic programs are available at http://www.mmarvell.com/justec.html. 188–190

Abstract

This paper presents a new data series for homicides of law enforcement officers. Available for more than two centuries, it is much longer than series previously examined. Police killings had two extreme peaks, one in the 1920s and another in the 1970s. We use the post-1930 part of the series in a time-series regression to explore structural conditions that affect police killings in the short term. Economic conditions, prison populations, and World War II have considerably larger impacts on police killings than on homicide generally. Police killings are less affected by demographic changes and by the crack epidemic.

Ancillary