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Officer assaults decline nationally but still concern local authorities

Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 6:55 PM
Last updated Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 1:21 AM
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Every assault on a law enforcement officer holds the potential for a death. With an average of 542 assaults each year for the past three years in Richmond County, many officers experience the threat on a daily basis.

“This is one kind of job where you’re always in danger,” said Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew. “It’s one of the stressors of the job.”

According to FBI data released Oct. 28, 52,901 officers nationwide were assaulted on the job during 2012. The South remains the area with the highest number of assaults. Georgia reported about 1,300 from the 482 agencies, including Richmond and Columbia counties, who reported statistics to the FBI.

The South also remained the highest for felonious deaths of officers, with 22 out of the 48 total officers killed in the region. Georgia lost one.

With the deaths of three officers from Aiken Public Safety and Richmond County between Oct. 2011 and January 2012, local authorities are acutely aware any assault can turn deadly.

Nationwide, assaults on officers have been dropping gradually since peaking in 2007, with 61,257 assaults. Richmond County has also seen gradual declines over the past three years, while Columbia County has shown a slight increase.

“We consider our numbers very low,” said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

FBI statistics show the majority of assaults, about 30 percent, occurred after responding to a disturbance call.

Richmond County authorities hope that the recent addition of Tasers will continue the drop in assaults. The sheriff’s office hopes to supply all remaining officers with Tasers soon, but have not been able to because of budget restraints.

Chew said officers have found that the threat of the Taser is often enough to prevent aggressive behavior from suspects.

“It’s a tremendous asset,” Chew said. “They’re always looking at ways to keep officers out of danger.”

ASSAULTS ON OFFICERS BY YEAR
YearRichmond CountyColumbia County
201243361
201155258
201064353
Comments (11) Add comment
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itsanotherday1
47028
Points
itsanotherday1 11/03/13 - 09:30 pm
4
1
I would be interested to see

I would be interested to see what actions are classified as "assault". I've seen criminals charged with assault for causing an officer to step out of the way of their car in an attempt to flee; and I've seen many clips of criminals actually attacking with guns, fists, etc.

fatboyhog
2090
Points
fatboyhog 11/03/13 - 10:14 pm
6
1
Cars

If someone tried to hit you with a car, would you consider it an assault?

KSL
140497
Points
KSL 11/03/13 - 10:31 pm
3
0
Almost hitting an officer

Almost hitting an officer with your car in an attempt to escape does seem like an assault to me.

JRC2024
9998
Points
JRC2024 11/03/13 - 11:46 pm
2
0
A car can be a deadly weapon

A car can be a deadly weapon and if you turn it toward an officer and give the officer reason to think you are going to run over him or her you deserve what you get in return.

specsta
6776
Points
specsta 11/04/13 - 02:40 am
5
4
Legalities

"The sheriff’s office hopes to supply all remaining officers with Tasers soon, but have not been able to because of budget restraints."

Budget restraints? I guess all of the budget went to buy shiny new cars for "safety" roadblocks and illegal vehicle searches to intimidate law-abiding citizens.

Oh, and the Supreme Court ruled in Fitz v the Michigan Dept. of State Police that motorists can make a U-turn to avoid a roadblock if they don't violate any laws while doing so. It is completely legal, but the RCSO would have you believe that it isn't.

" But the court also agreed with the trial court's conclusion that the checkpoints have the potential to generate fear and surprise in motorists. This was so because the record failed to demonstrate that approaching motorists would be aware of their option to make U-turns or turnoffs to avoid the checkpoints." - Chief Justice Rehnquist, delivering the opinion of the Court.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 11/04/13 - 04:41 am
2
1
Police
Unpublished

If an officer is in uniform and someone assaults that officer, the jail term should be life in jail. If a officer wants to break in to a house undercover and not in uniform, he gets what he gets.

itsanotherday1
47028
Points
itsanotherday1 11/04/13 - 08:12 am
3
1
I wasn't talking about aiming

I wasn't talking about aiming the car in a deliberate attempt to run somebody over, but rather trying to flee and the officer just needing to step out of the line of escape. That isn't assault. No intent.

But I think you all know what I'm getting at; how many are pile on charges vs real assaults. The numbers seem a little high.

JRC2024
9998
Points
JRC2024 11/04/13 - 08:31 am
4
0
oldredneck. I have always

oldredneck. I have always thought that if the police break into your home at anytime the defense you put up is not an assault but defending yourself. If a police officer gets hurt in the altercation then no charges should be filed against the homeowner. The arrests should be out in the open and then obtain a search warrant for the house, car or business. Much safer for all parties. What if it was the wrong house?

itsanotherday, most officers will pile on as many charges as the can to see what sticks.

specta, I also believe you should be able to turn around and leave and if they go after you and you and stop you you should not be charged with anything if you have all the right stuff.

nocnoc
47410
Points
nocnoc 11/04/13 - 09:13 am
2
0
As the FBI defines Assault not how Georgia does.

Since the FBI collected the statistics we must use their definition. http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/handbook/ucrhandbook04.pdf

We all pretty much agree what a real butt kicking assault is.
But what the FBI Uniform Reporting Code defines as Simple Assault is also included to record their assault data:

Page 23. Definition : An unlawful attack by one person upon another.

Simple assault is collected under 4e as a quality control matter and for the purpose of looking at total assault violence. From page 26 of their Uniform Crime Reporting Program manual."Agencies must classify as simple assault such offenses as assault and battery, injury caused by culpable negligence, intimidation, coercion, and all attempts to commit these offenses. Under certain circumstances, offenses of disorderly conduct, domestic violence, or affray must be classified as simple assault. "

The Following clearly indicates that OCGA is NOT used for defining what the FBI reports as assaults. Prosecutorial policy in a jurisdiction must not dictate an agency’s classification of an assault. Reporting agencies must examine and classify assaults according to the standard UCR definitions, regardless of whether they are termed misdemeanors or felonies by local definitions.

BTW: Even e-mail messages contained sexually offensive material and threats of violence to a RCSO deputy are considered Simple Assault.
,

Bizkit
34430
Points
Bizkit 11/04/13 - 09:26 am
2
1
Wow so law enforcement can

Wow so law enforcement can assault citizens with "stop and frisk" but we can't counter? I wonder how many police officers have assaulted citizens abusing their power? We've had some of that here where officers were fired for attacking citizens.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
10203
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 11/04/13 - 09:36 am
1
1
I wasn't talking about aiming

If you attempt to flee and know an officer is in the path of that vehicle then that officer is completely justified in taking your life. That is an assault with intent, not anything less. If that officer can step out of the way to avoid injury you've still committed an act that could be classified as an attempted homocide!!

itsanotherday1
47028
Points
itsanotherday1 11/04/13 - 04:34 pm
2
1
If I tried to wave somebody

If I tried to wave somebody down and they refused to stop, could I have them charged with attempted homicide?

Didn't think so.

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