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Assaults and Ambushes

Assaults on law enforcement officers are nothing new. It is crucial that you learn effective ways to prepare and train for any situation. This Spotlight on Safety reviews current trends, as well as different types of assaults and ambushes, and presents mitigation strategies. You will learn techniques that may help avoid, prevent, or respond to ambush attacks.

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Ambush Attacks Against Law Enforcement: Safety and Prevention Strategies

On , the Federal Bureau of Investigation released the 2016 preliminary statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.  These statistics show that 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty and that 17 of these officers were killed in ambush attacks.  Ambush attacks also were responsible for multiple serious injuries to officers and others.  This article will provide strategies to prevent ambush attacks and keep officers safe if attacked.

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Check out the 2016 preliminary statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty →
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The posters below are available for you to print and post around the office. These posters serve as a daily reminder not to become complacent. Research has shown that suspects read officers to decipher their preparedness. Prepare now for what could happen, so if it does, you’re ready.

VALOR Bulletin:  Officer Safety Concerns:  Ambush Attacks

During the past several years, there has been an emerging trend in felonious law enforcement officer deaths as a result of ambush confrontations with armed individuals. Most encounters that officers make are with law-abiding citizens, but unfortunately officers may be faced with encounters that are unexpected and dangerous. While not every law enforcement crisis can be averted and no officer is totally immune to ambushes, officers must train to be alert and sharpen their situational awareness during their tours of duty. (Read More...)

Ambush Half-card

Ambush-style attacks tend to happen suddenly and without much warning. However, there are things that law enforcement officers can do to prepare for or prevent an ambush-style attack.

Let's Stay Vigilant Against Ambushes (8.5 x 11)

Wear Your Vest Poster

The odds of surviving an ambush attack increase 235% by wearing a vest!

Complacency Poster

Complacency is safety's worst enemy.

Start Preparing Now!

The duties of law enforcement officers put them in potentially dangerous situations on a regular basis. Knowing what to do once an assault happens is an important part of survival. Training and physical/mental conditioning can improve an officer’s survival rate.

Prepare Now Card (8.5 x 5.5)

Plan for the Preventable Poster

  • 162 deaths per year
  • 56,208 assaults per year
  • 15,154 injuries per year
  • Thursday—most felonious fatalities
  • Monday—fewest number of felonious incidents
Plan for the Preventable (11 x 17)

VALOR for blue eLearning

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With the many tasks that are required of an officer, it is not always easy to focus on the task at hand. Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information and make decisions based on those observations. It is one of the most critical ways officers can avoid a potential assault.

Common Indicators of a Potential Attack

This online training module is intended to help officers identify common behavioral indicators of a potential attack. Recognizing these behavioral indicators will raise officers' awareness during suspect encounters and could potentially save an officer’s life.

Ambush Attacks

This VALOR training module was created in response to the increase in ambush-style assaults that have led to the injuries or deaths of many law enforcement officers in recent years. This training is designed to give officers tools to help prevent and react to ambush attacks.

Officer Safety Concerns: Ambush Awareness

This webinar overviews the trends and statistics related to ambushes on law enforcement officers in recent years, as well as counter–ambush strategies and considerations. In addition, one officer recounts her story of survival in an ambush attack. Recorded on , at p.m., ET.

Casualty Care—Get Off the "X"

This online scenario is designed to increase the capacity of law enforcement personnel to implement mitigation techniques used to deal with major hemorrhage caused by gunshot and/or knife wounds, etc. This mock law enforcement-suspect encounter deals with a fairly common law enforcement incident, a felony vehicular stop. The scenario reinforces tactics that should be utilized in order to mitigate injuries associated with gunfire from a suspect or suspects. At the conclusion of this scenario, participants will understand the importance of suppressing the threat, using cover and concealment for protection, and treating life-threatening bleeding as the first medical priority.

Officer-Involved Shooting

This online training module will examine the sensory distortions that officers may experience before, during, and after officer-involved shootings. It will also provide some training considerations and recommendations on how officers may improve how they react to the stress of shootings, such as reality-/scenario-based training to improve situational awareness and communication and coordination skills.


U.S. Department of Justice, Bulletproof Vest Partnership logo

Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA)

The 2014 LEOKA data has been published. Law enforcement agencies reported that 48,315 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2014. Read more...

Officers Feloniously Killed and Assaulted, Percent Distribution by Time of Incident, 2005 to 2014 (8.5 x 11)

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

“Seven officers were shot and killed during traffic stops, more than any other circumstance of fatal shootings." Read more in the Preliminary 2015 Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report.

Officer Down Memorial Page

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, from 2000 to 2014, the total number of officers who have died in the line of duty is 2,463. Of those deaths, nearly 33 percent (788 total) resulted from gunfire. (Read more...)

Ambushes of Police:  Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks Against Law Enforcement

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office)  reports that ambush attacks against law enforcement officers remain a threat to officer safety, with the number of attacks per year holding steady since a decline in the early 1990s and the proportion of fatal attacks on officers attributable to ambushes increasing. Concerns about targeted violence against officers are on the rise, while officers must not only be guardians of the public but also be prepared to respond to violence targeting them. In an era of strained community relations and struggles with police legitimacy, violence against police is of particular concern. Yet little research has examined ambush attacks as a specific and particularly directed form of violence against them. The current study addresses that gap in the research literature through a mixed-methods study of ambush attacks against law enforcement.

Ambush Fact Sheet

This U.S. Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police report presents descriptive findings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in the Line of Duty data collection program. Two data sets are used: an incident-level supplemental data set of serious injurious and fatal assaults against police; and an agency-level data set that captures all assaults—noninjurious, injurious, and fatal—per agency.

Deadly Calls and Fatal Encounters

In 2015, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office to study officer line-of-duty deaths. This report is a five-year study analyzing line-of-duty deaths in which a total of 684 cases were reviewed. Specifically, the analysis focused on cases involving dispatched calls for service that required a police response and the information that was made available to responding officers in the deadliest calls for service.  Armed with this information, researchers were then tasked with determining whether any commonalities existed that could be utilized as learning tools to prevent future deadly calls or fatal encounters.

Toward a New Professionalism in Policing

This report offers the “New Professionalism” as a conceptual framework that can help chiefs, frontline police officers, and members of the public alike understand and shape the work of police departments today and in the years ahead. Even while it remains a work in progress, the "Toward a New Professionalism in Policing" can help police chiefs and commissioners keep their organizations focused on why they are doing what they do, what doing it better might look like, and how they can prioritize the many competing demands for their time and resources.

Violent Encounters

Law enforcement officers, charged with safeguarding the nation’s citizens, face potential felonious death and assault daily; they deserve the best possible safety training. The present work, "Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers", offers insights that may help to improve safety-training techniques.