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Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers

NCJ Number
Anthony J. Pinizzotto, Ph.D.; Edward F. Davis, M.S.; Charles E. Miller, III
Date Published
August 2006
188 pages

This document, the third and final installment in a trilogy examining law enforcement safety, presents the findings of a study that examined the problem of felonious assaults on law enforcement officers.


Findings from this study reveal that felonious assaults on officers are the result of a discrepancy that exists between how officers and offenders perceive the same situation. After examining incidents of felonious assault on police officers, the authors found that when encounters between officers and offenders (known or suspected) turned violent, the balance of power often shifted in favor of the offender, thereby changing the interpersonal dynamic between the two parties. In these situations, self-awareness by either party became critical to their survival. Data for the study came from information on approximately 800 incidents of felonious assaults against officers; 40 of the incidents are examined in detail in the study. In-depth interviews with the victim officers and the offenders and visits to the crime scenes provided additional information for the study. This study is presented in nine chapters in this report: Chapters 1-3 present information on the offense incidents, the officers, and the offenders; Chapter 4 presents an in-depth analysis of weapons-related issues; Chapter 5 examines the role of perception in the violent encounter; Chapter 6 explores the role of suicide by cop; Chapter 7 looks at the training issues involved in these incidents; Chapter 8 presents case summaries of some of the 40 incidents included in this study; and Chapter 9 describes the concept of deadly mix and how it is involved in felonious assault incidents with police officers. The methodology and participation protocols for the study are presented in two appendixes. Tables, figures, and bibliography