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Don't Let This Alarming Statistic About Officer Assaults Mislead You

President Donald Trump says an officer was assaulted every 10 minutes in 2016. That's true, but not a very helpful statistic. Here's why.
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Don't Let This Alarming Statistic About Officer Assaults Mislead You

"In 2016, an officer was assaulted in America on an average of every 10 minutes. Can you believe that?" 

That's the president at the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service earlier this month. That assault-every-10-minutes statistic holds up, but that's not a very helpful measure of how common officer assaults are.

There's some serious math involved here, so let's put that high school statistics to good use.

President Trump gets to his number by dividing the number of minutes in a year, 525,600, by the number of officer assaults in 2016, 57,180. But that only really tells you what 525,600 divided by 57,180 is. It doesn't account for the size of the police force. A more useful statistic would be the number of officer assaults divided by the number of officers in the U.S. That'll show you that an officer has a 9.8 percent chance of being assaulted on the job.

Also, about three-quarters of those assaults the president alludes to didn't involve a weapon. Officers were injured in 28.9 percent of the reported assaults.