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Homicides are not random. Our research suggests that police officers killed while on-duty are not random samples of their departments. Using in-depth interviews with fellow officers and family members, we reconstructed the lives of eight slain officers in one rural state. The findings show that these officers exhibited personal characteristics, family difficulties and occupational dynamics quite different from average members of their departments. While no individual fit the emerging profile perfectly, these slain officers generally were: (1) verbally and physically aggressive, (2) meticulous and rigid, (3) preoccupied with handguns and competitive shooting, (4) having marital problems or divorced, (5) experiencing departmental clashes, and (6) unhappy with their police careers. Five knew their killer, all died within seven blocks of their office and within one minute of leaving their patrol vehicle, and five died in communities smaller than 3,500 people.



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