The Unifying Case for Getting Covid Under Control? Probably not, but It Should Be.

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund put out their 2021 End-Of-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report (PDF) and it leads with:

[A]s of December 31, 2021, 458 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers died in the line-of-duty in 2021. This is an increase of 55% from the 295 officers killed during the same period last year, and is the highest total line-of-duty officer deaths since 1930 when there were 312 fatalities.

So that’s a pretty serious increase, and based on what media you consume, likely has you already jumping to conclusions on what this tells us. Thankfully, the report add some context around this number compared to the per-year averages going back to the 1970s with this chart:

So clearly we’ve had a major spike, and again, based on your media diet, there’s a decent chance you think this is all the more reason to get that blue live matter flag out.

But what actually happened? Thankfully, the report breaks this spike down for us:

This is actually a really bad example of data visualization, so let’s recreate this chart to scale. You know, so the numbers determine the section sizes, not the text 🙃

And let’s do one more, but with the 2010’s average next to it to add some historical context:

So basically, there were slightly fewer officer deaths in 2021 than the average over the past decade, but Covid-19 entirely accounted for the nearly 3x multiplier in overall deaths last year.

Unless you’re prepared to do some really spectacular mental gymnastics to blame this on whatever Fox News is mad at today, it’s pretty clear that the number one thing we can do to save officer lives in 2022 is to get Covid under control.