FACT CHECK: Was A Police Officer Assaulted Every 9 Minutes In 2016?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

President Donald Trump gave a speech in Orlando, Florida, in which he claimed that an officer was assaulted every nine minutes in 2016.

“In order to keep every American safe, we are also making officer safety a top priority. In 2016, an officer was assaulted in America on an average of every nine minutes – is this even believable?” he asked the audience.

Verdict: True

There were 57,180 reported assaults on law enforcement officers in 2016, according to FBI statistics. On average, that’s an assault every 9.2 minutes.

Fact Check:

Trump made the claim while addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police at their convention Monday.

The FBI tracks the number of officers killed and assaulted and publishes their findings in an annual report. The 2016 report shows that there were 57,180 reported assaults on law enforcement officers in the line of duty that year – an average of one assault every nine minutes. This data was gathered from 12,421 law enforcement departments that employ 586,446 officers.

Of these 57,180 assaults, 16,535, or 28.9 percent, left an officer injured. Assaults were most often carried out with hands, fists or feet. Firearms were involved in 4.2 percent of cases, knives in 1.9 percent of cases and some other dangerous weapon in 16 percent of cases.

In 2016, 52 officers were killed accidentally, and another 66 were killed intentionally.

Thirty-two percent of assaults occurred when officers were responding to disturbance calls, which could be anything from a domestic dispute to a bar fight. Assaults most frequently occurred between 12:01 a.m. and 2 a.m.

The number of reported assaults is up from 2015, when there were 50,991 reported assaults on officers in the line of duty.

It’s worth noting that FBI statistics don’t account for all law enforcement agencies. The number of reporting agencies covered 83 percent of the U.S. population in 2016, a figure that varies slightly from year to year.

Trump has referred to police as “the most mistreated people in this country” and made empowering them a goal of his administration.

Shortly after taking office, he signed an executive order that directed the Department of Justice to use federal law to prosecute crimes committed against officers. Trump also reversed an Obama administration policy which limited the access police had to surplus military equipment such as armored vehicles and certain large-caliber weapons.

Police officers are more likely to experience a work-related injury or death than most other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter

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