Juvenile Cop Killers

James J. Nolan III, West Virginia University
F. Carson Mencken, West Virginia University
Samuel Berhanu, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Between 1980 and 1998, 1,417 law enforcement officers were killed while on duty in the United States. Juvenile offenders were involvede in more than 10% of these cases. Detailed information about the victim officers, the offenders, and the circumstances surrounding these murders is collected by the FBI as part of a national program known as LEOKA (for Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted). In this paper the authors present a comprehensive analysis of the LEOKA data, focusing primarily on the juvenile offenders. The paper examines significant trends in juvenile offending between the years 1980 and 1998. The analysis includes characteristics of the juvenile offender, circumstances under which the murders occurred, characteristics of the victim officer, temporal factors, type of weapon, region of the United States, and more. The authors also point out similarities and differences between police homicides committed by adults and those committed by juveniles. The public policy implications resulting from this analysis are also considered.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006