NIOSH Nonfatal Injuries Among Law Enforcement Officers Research Study

An important research study examining nonfatal injuries among law enforcement officers

Are you a law enforcement officer who has been injured on the job and visited the ER? Please respond if contacted by CDC/NIOSH following your visit to share your story and help protect fellow officers. Your participation is completely confidential. 

We don’t know how many officers sustain injuries on the job each year, the severity of those injuries, or how those injuries impact the officers and agencies. Initial evidence suggests that injuries and assaults on officers may be increasing. Sharing information about your injury can help prevent injuries among other officers as well as inform decisionmakers about the risks that officers face and how often they occur.

This study is funded by the National Institute of Justice.

 

About the study

 

The National Police Foundation (NPF) has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), to support a national study on nonfatal injuries among law enforcement officers. Police officers are encouraged to participate as this research will help law enforcement leaders better understand how on-duty injuries to officers occur and how these injuries can be prevented.

Previously, NIOSH conducted a study that was broader in scope—looking at the total number of emergency department visits for both intentional and unintentional on-duty injuries among law enforcement officers. This study showed that injuries among officers were prevalent, and that we likely underestimate how often they occur. Initial evidence suggests that assaults on officers may be increasing—a troubling trend that requires more research about the circumstances of these incidents so that more can be done to prevent future incidents.

“This new study is a critical national study. We don’t know how many officers sustain injuries on the job each year, the severity of those injuries, or how it impacts the officers, agencies, or communities,” said Jim Burch, President of the National Police Foundation. “Sharing information about your injury can help prevent injuries among other officers and help to inform decision makers about the risks that officers face and how often they occur.”

Data collection efforts are already underway. Officers who are injured to the extent that a hospital examination is required may be contacted by CDC/NIOSH researchers in follow-up to their visit. NPF encourages officers who are contacted to respond when contacted.

The new study aims to analyze nonfatal incidents in greater detail. For example, this research will address questions such as:

  • What duty was the officer performing or what kind of activity was the officer engaged in when he or she was injured?
  • What stage of an officer’s career do these injuries most often occur?
  • What time of day did the injury occur?
  • Were other officers present at the time of injury?
  • If it was a motor-vehicle collision, what were the weather conditions?

Data collected through this study will help the law enforcement community understand the risks that officers face and will position law enforcement leaders to make decisions to improve officer safety.

“As law enforcement officers, we know the risks we face, but on a national level, we lack the data needed to prevent fatalities and injuries through improved policies and training,” said Chris Cosgriff, Officer Down Memorial Page Founder and Police Officer. “Your support and the provision of information to the CDC/NIOSH team can make a difference and protect a fellow officer. I urge you to be alert for outreach from NIOSH following any emergency room visit.”

Agency and officer information is kept strictly confidential and afforded federal research protections, and any results will be published without identifying information. Agencies do not need to release records—information is collected directly from injured officers through a brief telephone interview with a trained public health researcher.

“Below 100 works with law enforcement every day to prevent officer fatalities and injuries. While we know a fair amount about fatalities, we know very little about injuries and, consequently, we don’t know much about preventing them,” said Roy Bethge, Executive Director of Below 100. “This CDC/NIOSH study can close the knowledge gap on officer injuries, but only with our help. It is vital that officers who are contacted by CDC/NIOSH respond and provide information, which can be done confidentially. We can only do something about these events if we are willing to share our stories and take a long hard look at the data.”

For media inquiries, please contact the NIOSH Press Office at nioshmedia@cdc.gov.

About NIOSH:

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit www.cdc.gov/niosh.


Study Overview Flyer

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What makes this study different or special?
This study is unique for several reasons: The study is supported by two federal agencies – the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). NIOSH aims to develop new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and transfer it into practice. The NIJ is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. The research team is experienced and has a strong and diverse background that includes injury researchers, criminologists, former law enforcement officers, and emergency room data experts. A multi-disciplinary approach benefits this study of nonfatal injuries among police officers.

Why study nonfatal injuries? Is that even important?
We have a very good understanding of line-of-duty deaths and how to prevent them. What we don’t fully understand are nonfatal injuries that impact officers and their agencies in so many ways. For example, overexertion injuries are very expensive and can lead to significant time away from work. These injuries can also impact an officer’s home life and mental health if they involve long-term pain or disability. Worse yet, these injuries could lead to the end of a law enforcement career. We know so little about how officers get injured, how they recover, and what can the field as a whole can do to prevent these injuries.

Will my data or story get back to my agency or other officers?
Dr’s Tiesman, Rojek, and Grieco have worked with law enforcement agencies and officers for many years and understand officers’ concerns about keeping their personal data confidential. Any results will be published in an aggregate form without any personal identifiers. This study has no bearing on workers’ compensation cases. It is not possible to link a case with a particular agency or officer. We understand that trust is pivotal to the success of the project. We need officers to feel comfortable telling their stories so we have meaningful data to point us toward injury prevention and the safety of fellow officers. Feel free to reach out to any of the investigators for more information on our confidentiality assurances.

Research Team

 

Dr. Hope Tiesman is a Research Epidemiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, WV.  Her research interests include law enforcement officer safety and wellness, prevention of workplace violence, and the current opioid overdose crisis.  Her current work includes funded research projects on nonfatal injuries among law enforcement officers, officer safety and wellness evaluations, various officer motor vehicle safety training initiatives, and examination of opioids in the workplace.

Dr. Jeff Rojek is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and the Director of the Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection at Michigan State University. His research interests include officer decision making, use of force, officer training and officer safety.  His current work includes funded research projects examining officer-involved shootings, evaluation of officer safety training, evaluation of social interaction and de-escalation training, and officer decision-making in social interaction and potential force encounters.

Dr. Julie Grieco is a Senior Research Associate at the National Police Foundation in Washington DC. Her research interests include officer safety and wellness, attitudes relating to the use of research in policing, and overall research translation for law enforcement. Her current work includes multiple assessments of officer safety and wellness initiatives, a gunshot detection technology evaluation, an officer-involved shooting analysis, and the National Law Enforcement Applied Research and Data Platform.

 

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