Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty: A Comparison of Juvenile and Adult Offenders

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

Between 1980 and 1999, over 1,400 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. Ten percent of these cases involved juvenile offenders. Past studies on this topic have not examined adult and juvenile offenders separately, in essence offering a tacit assumption that the patterns of law enforcement homicides are the same for adult and juvenile offenders. However, research on violent crime and homicide indicates that the patterns and likelihood of committing a homicide are different for adult and juvenile offenders. We propose that the same conclusion can be applied to situations in which law enforcement officers are killed. We employ the Federal Bureau of Investigation's LEOKA data (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted). In our analysis we employ log-linear models to compare adults and juveniles who have murdered police officers between 1980 and 1999 on a variety of socioeconomic, demographic, and circumstances of the event (i.e. drugs/alcohol involved, type of weapon, type of jurisdiction, etc.). The findings have substantive implications for the literature on juvenile homicide offenses, methodological implications for the manner in which these types of studies are modeled, and potential policy implications for police officer training and safety

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Updated 05/20/2006