Mississippi ranks high in police officer deaths per capita - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi ranks high in police officer deaths per capita

Across the nation, nearly 1,800 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last 10 years./Photo credit: WDAM Across the nation, nearly 1,800 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last 10 years./Photo credit: WDAM
MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) -

Across the nation, nearly 1,800 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last 10 years.

Mississippi ranks near the top of the list, being one of the deadliest states for law enforcement officers.

According to ODMP.org (Officers Down Memorial Page), 31.8 percent of law enforcement officers are killed by gunfire.

“I think across states where gunfire is the leading cause of among police officers, I think we look at the gun culture and the accessibility to firearms,” University of Southern Mississippi Criminal Justice Professor Alan Thompson said. Thompson is also a former police officer.

Mississippi is a leading state in the nation when it comes to owning guns, alongside Alaska.

“It’s not uncommon for police officers to encounter individuals who are armed and again, keep in mind that every time the police encounter someone there’s always at least one gun present and that’s the weapon of the police officer,” Thompson said. “Data indicates, longitudinal data indicates that Mississippi tends to rank near the top of all states regarding duty related deaths in law enforcement.”

Statistics from ODMP.org: 

  • 31.8 percent of deaths from gunfire
  • 19.8 percent of deaths from auto accidents
  • 8.1 percent of deaths from heart attacks
  • 6.8 percent of deaths from vehicular assaults

“While some officer deaths are purely accidental, many of the police deaths reported around the country are felonious losses, these killings are highest in Mississippi and Alaska,” according to FBI statistics.

Those stats are broken down in felonious deaths per 1,000 officers.

As of late November 2016, Mississippi lost one law enforcement officer, Special Agent Lee Tart, with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Tart was killed Feb. 20 as he and other members of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety SWAT team attempted to make entry into a home during a barricade situation near Iuka, MS.

“Although we see a relatively low number of deaths in Mississippi, by comparison to those larger states when we look at those deaths based upon the population of the state or more accurately at the number of law enforcement officers in the state, we do see that the risk in the numbers are relatively high here in Mississippi compared to other states,” Thompson said. 

In 2015, Mississippi lost five law enforcement officers and one sheriff’s department K9.

Thompson strives to teach his criminal justice students the realistic aspects of policing so they know what they are getting in to for their future.

The statistic of Mississippi ranking near the top of the nation at police officer deaths per capita shocked some of them.

“It’s very disheartening to hear honestly, regardless of what state it is, at this day in age officer deaths are going up, I think we need to take that into account, it definitely sends red alarms,” USM Junior Jordan Ricks said. 

USM Senior Beverly Andrews said, “It kind of brings back to reality that policing is a serious job, it’s not something that you just wake up and kind of decide to do, it really kind of makes you want to really have that dedication to serve others no matter the cost of what it may bring."

Both Andrews and Ricks are both pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“Professor Thompson’s class offers realism, the selfless service of officers, what may happen on the job, what does happen on the job, and to hear that before you go to the academy, before you see it first hand, is key in choosing the criminal justice field,” Ricks said. 

Thompson said that is one of his main goals is to provide students with a realistic view of what they can expect.

“Police officers are simply going to work, trying to serve the community and at times for officers that can have fatal consequences,” Thompson said. 

Copyright 2016 WDAM. All rights reserved. 

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • Jones County escapee turns himself in

    Jones County escapee turns himself in

    Sunday, August 13 2017 2:41 PM EDT2017-08-13 18:41:00 GMT

    A Jones County escapee is back in custody after walking off a work detail Thursday. 

    More >>

    A Jones County escapee is back in custody after walking off a work detail Thursday. 

    More >>
  • Kittrell, Wayne Academy looking to gain more attention

    Kittrell, Wayne Academy looking to gain more attention

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 10:44 PM EDT2017-08-17 02:44:25 GMT
    Markus KittrellMarkus Kittrell
    Markus Kittrell is well aware when people speak of Wayne County football, the assumption is the conversation will be of the public school War Eagles. Kitrell and his teammates would like to change that a bit this fall. “When you say Wayne County, everybody knows Wayne County High School, but it’s time for us to put it out there about Wayne Academy, where everybody will know about us,” said Kittrell, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound, two-way lineman for the Jaguars. Wayne Aca...More >>
    Markus Kittrell is well aware when people speak of Wayne County football, the assumption is the conversation will be of the public school War Eagles. Kitrell and his teammates would like to change that a bit this fall. “When you say Wayne County, everybody knows Wayne County High School, but it’s time for us to put it out there about Wayne Academy, where everybody will know about us,” said Kittrell, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound, two-way lineman for the Jaguars. Wayne Aca...More >>
  • PCS, West Marion to square off in season-opening rematch

    PCS, West Marion to square off in season-opening rematch

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 10:01 PM EDT2017-08-17 02:01:27 GMT
    Source: WDAMSource: WDAM
    For a second consecutive football season, West Marion High School and Presbyterian Christian School will square off in the season-opening game for each school. But neither team knows quite what to expect from not only the team across the field but the one arrayed along its own sideline. PCS welcomes West Marion at 7 p.m. Thursday, one of two area prep games set a day before a near full, inaugural slate of high school games. Stringer High School will visit Bay Springs High Schoo...More >>
    For a second consecutive football season, West Marion High School and Presbyterian Christian School will square off in the season-opening game for each school. But neither team knows quite what to expect from not only the team across the field but the one arrayed along its own sideline. PCS welcomes West Marion at 7 p.m. Thursday, one of two area prep games set a day before a near full, inaugural slate of high school games. Stringer High School will visit Bay Springs High Schoo...More >>
Powered by Frankly