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Ch.1; “Violent Encounters” FBI 5 Year Study!

Chapter by Chapter Post Series on “Violent Encounters” a 5 Year Study by the FBI.

Recently we  have read over a dozen blog posts of an FBI 5 year study titled, “Violent Encounters” and none of them were very detailed.  Summary versions are all over the internet, and so, thanks to Charles E. Miller III, (Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Training and Systems Education Unit) we now have a copy and will do a post per chapter, summarizing each, to provide a more detailed account of the study.

Authored by three FBI agents of the National Institute of Justice, Anthony J. Pinizzotto, Edward F. Davis and Charles E. Miller III, this study is the last of a trilogy that started in 1992.  The first study published, “Killed in the Line of Duty, was actually published in 1992, the study covered several years before that, obviously.  The second, In the Line of Fire, was published in 1997, and now the third, Violent Encounters, was published in 2006.

These studies are very interesting in nature.  They examine the discrepancy between how officers and offenders may perceive the same situation.  “Perception is everything” as the saying goes…therefore this study is certainly important to the safety of Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s) and from that, we can deduce that there is information of some importance for citizens as well.

The first chapter of “Violent Encounters” titled, “The Offense and the Circumstances” stated many statistics gathered over a 5 year period.  The first chapter, representing an introductory assessment of the physical, mental and emotional states of the victims (officers) and the offenders (criminals), will be summarized in this post.


Taken from many cases, it was narrowed down to 50 victim officers, which comprised of 49 males and 1 female. The average age of the officers was 35 years, with an average weight of 197 pounds.

There were 43 offenders, 41 males and 2 females, with an average age of 26 years, with an average weight of 175 pounds.

Both the officers and the offenders, for the majority, were all reported to have excellent health. Many participated in sports and exercise on a regular basis. Only a few from the 93 total had any physical problems at all.

There were 35 offenders that admitted the use of alcohol once a week or more, with 13 drinking daily. 30 offenders were using drugs once a week or more, with 20 using drugs or narcotics daily. 36 offenders admitted using drugs or alcohol prior to committing the assault. (Ch. 3 goes into that more.)

There were a few officers that used alcohol once a week or slightly more. None of them had used any such substance 12 to 24 hours before the assault on them took place.


Mimicking the first two studies, the most prevalent assault location was a highway, roadway or alley. (22 cases)  There were 8 that occurred in residences, homes or apartments. There were 4 in parking lots or garages and 2 that occurred in drug stores or doctor’s offices/hospitals. Restaurants and commercial buildings were recorded with 1 each, then 1 in an apartment building hallway, and 1 in a courtyard of an apartment.

Arrival at the Scene

49 of the 50 officers arrived in vehicles. 1 was assigned to prisoner control at a local hospital during his shift. (tour of duty)

26 of the offenders arrived at the crime scene in vehicles. 6 walked to the crime scene, while 2 offenders were under arrest for other crimes when the assault occurred. 1 of these was while receiving medical treatment at the hospital, and 1 while being transported in a patrol wagon.

Weapons Used in the Assaults

Handguns were certainly the weapon of choice for the offenders who kill or attempt to kill LEO’s. (Law Enforcement Officers)

In the first two studies, the 38 caliber was the most frequently used. In the current study, the 9mm increased tremendously, as well the .22 caliber one instance of a 410 shot shell being used. In many incidents, multiple firearms were used against the officers. Rifles and handguns were used. 41 of the weapons used by the attackers were brought to the scene of the crime, where a few occurred at the offenders’ homes; a butcher knife and carving fork were reported in one case.


On the last section, we noted the similarity of firearm caliber, which reflects the caliber in use by law enforcement.  In the early 1990’s, the 38 Smith and Wesson Special was the caliber of choice of law enforcement.  As the change to 9mm Luger began shortly thereafter, the change is seen in what the criminals used.  Particular to note is that none of the misnamed “assault weapon” calibers show up in the studies, i.e. 7.62X39.  What was purported by the then Clinton administration was that “assault weapons” were the gun of choice of the criminal element.  The truth was and is, few rifles were and are involved in attacks on law enforcement personnel.

Remember that these are statistics involving law enforcement officers, not your average everyday citizen.  There are things that should be learned from these studies, but mentioning that the majority of these assaults occurred on highways, roadways or streets, does not mean that it is the same for the normal person. These studies are fantastic for reading and getting the realism from the facts presented, but they would certainly be different, if these studies were based on attacks by criminals on ordinary people.

What I am hoping that anyone reading this will realize is that there is a type and mindset for some criminals and knowing more about how they think and the behavior that is displayed can be worth noting. The more you know, the better you should be…and the more responsibility you have as well. One of the interesting things about this study is that of the victim officers, almost none of them had the same perception of the situation at hand.  While some of the offenders used tactics, like talking about family and other things to get the cops “guard down”, their whole plan was to attack and escape.  The officers didn’t have the same view point. Knowing more will help you to keep your guard up and keep yourself in a better defensive mind set.

Be safe, refuse to be a victim and check you six often!

Damon Thueson & Steve Beckstead

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