Last year, 112 security officers were feloniously killed on duty, according to data compiled by a North Carolina-based security association. That's almost as many police that died on duty from natural causes, accidents, and off-duty incidents combined. Injuries and assaults on security officers increased 17 percent.
“We started compiling these numbers [years ago] because there was no entity keeping statistics like these for the security industry,” Private Officer International (POI) CEO Rick McCann said by phone on Monday.
According to Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), a site that tracks law enforcement deaths, 126 police officers died last year from natural causes, accidents, and felonious deaths.
The FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, released last November, says 72 police officers were feloniously killed in 2011.
POI works with government agencies, private companies, and the media to compile incidents involving security officers. The organization released preliminary statistics on private security officers killed or injured in 2012 last week and plans to release a more detailed report later this month.
The numbers come from incidents POI was able to confirm. The organization says the number of assaults could be 12 to 20 percent higher because incidents involving security workers are often misreported or not reported at all. An employee is less likely to report an altercation that they consider a routine hazard of the occupation.
McCann, 56, who started working in security when he was 17, says people often take for granted the amount of abuse thrown at security officers in settings like malls or shopping centers--places where assaults are on the rise.
Most deaths and assaults occurred at nightclubs, residential areas, and retail centers. There were also a number of assaults reported at hospitals.
“The average shopping mall has 50-110 reports a year of threats or physical assault, but many are not reported as such because of the management company not wanting that information to get out--or they don’t classify it that way,” he said.
Security officers are getting injured and killed because they're increasingly taking on the role of first responders, McCann says. "They're being put in harm’s way and often aren’t adequately trained or given the right equipment."
POI lobbies lawmakers for better regulations concerning security officer training and harsher punishments for people who assault them.
Security officers outnumber police worldwide two to one.