Police & Firefighter work dangerous? Yes! And no.

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 33 Comments


Do police and firefighters (who, oddly enough, have almost the same chance of dying on the job) really have higher workplace fatality rates than other occupations?


And no.

Check out the 2006 fatality statistics published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor. The national average mortality rate on the job for all occupations is 4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Police and firefighter deaths on the job are a bit over 4 times that average. Clearly their jobs are more hazardous than what most working people have to face.

But let’s compare that public safety mortality rate with some other blue collar, mostly male jobs. The figures below are the number of on-the-job deaths annually per 100,000 workers, by occupation (and note the average for men vs. women):

* Policemen: 16.8
* Firefighters: 16.6
* Men: 6.9
* Women: 0.7
* Farmers and Ranchers: 37.2
* Grounds Maintenance Workers: 13.5
* Fishers and related Fishing Workers: 147.2
* Construction Laborers: 21.4
* Roofers: 33.5
* Structural Iron and Steel Workers: 61
* Operating Engineers and other Equipment Operators: 18.2
* Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers: 90.4
* Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors: 40.7
* Logging: 87.4
* Mining: 28.1
* Taxi and limousine drivers: 22.1
* Truck Transportation: 27.2

You can read the entire document by clicking here.

Or here: http://orangejuiceblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/cfoi_rates_2006.pdf
As you can see, a number of occupations entail as great or greater risk. Indeed, a grounds maintenance worker faces almost as much mortality risk as our police and firefighters. Construction laborers face a 28% higher risk. Truck drivers are 63% more likely to die on the job. Roofers face twice the mortality risk of our public safety workers. And then there are some REALLY dangerous occupations to consider.

A common lament is that “police and firefighters’ wives — when they send their husbands off to work — don’t know whether or not they will return that evening.” [Somehow it’s unmanly to reverse the genders.] True enough.

But the fact is that there are millions of workers who go off to work each morning with less of a chance of returning home than the odds facing a police officer or firefighter.

One reason few people are aware of this fact is that when a public safety employee dies on the job, there is a huge amount of publicity. You seldom have a private funeral for a cop or firefighter — it’s an “all hands on deck” evolution.

Meanwhile every day people die on the job in these other riskier occupations, and such tragedies seldom get even a mention in the papers, let alone on TV.

Every occupational death is a tragedy, and no one should downplay that fact. But the idea that police and firefighters face incredible dangers is simply not true. Public safety jobs entail risk, but not THAT much risk.

In a separate blog item I will deal with the public safety RETIREE morality rate. For now, suffice it to say that there is little difference compared to the general population — labor union propaganda notwithstanding.


Comments 33

  1. Mr. Rider,

    Your article does a huge disservice to all the officers who work in law enforcement. To just focus on mortality is absolutely absurd comparison on how dangerous are jobs really are. You neglect to point out the 58,000 plus officers assaulted in the line of duty and what about the officers that contract diseases through needle sticks and blood borne pathogens. I find your article a pathetic attempt to minimize the perils facing public safety workers in the United States.

    Brian R Marvel
    President, SDPOA

  2. Richard, no disrespect to any occupation, dangerous or otherwise, but you might want to consider the violent nature of the deaths police officers and firefighters face. Getting gunned down while responding to a call for help, being executed while on a coffee break or beaten to death with a tire iron are some recent examples. That’s what I think about every day I go to work. No matter how tactical and safe I am doing my job, some nut could drive right up to me and blow my head off, for no other reason than I am in a uniform reresenting authority.

    Oh yeah, since you want to compare rates why don’t you go ahead and look up the annual number of assaults officers face and compare them with other occupations? Let me use myself as an example. In 25 years on the job I have been stabbed, attacked with a chain, attacked with a baseball bat, hit with bottles, shot at (six times) and been in numerous fights. I’ve had a violent , raging lunatic twice my size try to wrestle my gun away from me, presumably to kill me with it. I’ve had five surgeries through the years repairing various broken joints and limbs stemming from some of these incidents.

    Two weeks ago I had to repeatedly walk by the blood and gore left by Officer Wilson while working the SWAT Incident stemming from his murder. This was the second time I have personally been at an incident where an officer was killed in the line of duty. Those images, along with the numerous other traumatic incidents I have witnessed, will go with me to my grave.

    I don’t think you meant to be Richard, at least I hope not, but I found your “comparison” insulting.

    Sergeant Randy Levitt
    San Diego Police

  3. Richard,

    Yours is an interesting take on comparing apples to kangaroos. What it absolutely points out is that those other occupations are in dire need of OSHA intervention and employee safety training. However, since you have made safety worker deaths the target of your sarcasm, I would say that thankfully, fewer officers are killed in the line of duty, due to better training, better equipment, and better personnel selection.

    I sincerely hope this trend continues, as even the loss of one peace officer is a threat to the sanctity of society as a whole. Perhaps the next time I need someone to handle the fight between two gang members, I’ll be certain to call a tree trimmer. Or when the woman is being assaulted in a park at three in the morning, I’ll ring up the nearest pilot.

    We can play the game of comparisons until the loggers come home, but the reality, as you yourself have stated in a previous blog, is that few people are interested in becoming police officers; due in large part to the danger inherent in the profession.

    Thank you again for obfuscating what should otherwise be a discussion regarding the thanks we owe to these warriors for the most difficult job they do. ♠♠

  4. Richard,

    I visited several gravesites in Fort Rosecrans today. One of those was that of Federico “Rico” Borjas, a SDPD officer who died serving overseas. Rico gave his life for his country AND served the citizens of San Diego in some of its most dangerous situations as a SWAT officer. Rico lived his life as an American hero, always working the dangerous job.

    Our soldiers currently serving in Iran and Afghanistan have a mortality rate on average of slightly over .20. According to your logic, they don’t have a very dangerous job.

    As a Vietnam Veteran, you may or may not know the mortality rates for American soldiers during the Vietnam War. As you have done, I am using information from a source that I have not personally researched.

    Per Wikianswers, the mortality rate per 100,000 for the Vietnam War each year is listed as:

    1972= 0.55
    1971= 1.15
    1970= 2.04
    1969= 5.04
    1968= 7.08
    1967= 5.12
    1966= 2.61
    1965= 0.47
    1964= 0.16

    Does these figures mean U.S Soldiers serving in Vietnam in 1964, 1965 and 1972 were in a less dangerous situation than their comrades in other years? Was serving in Vietnam during these years less dangerous than being a farmer? A fisherman? An ironworker? An airline pilot?

    I don’t think so and I would guess you and other Vietnam Veterans would agree.

    Don’t think this is a fair comparison? Neither do I.

    The mortality rate study you cite means nothing. When you compare police and firefighter deaths in that way, you insult all of us who are out there every day defending your right to be wrong.

    By the way, thank you for your military service on this special day.

  5. Post

    Most people are not interested in becoming police officers because many people don’t LIKE police officers. Too often an officer gets cursed rather than thanked for doing his job — especially in this day and age when cops must enforce laws that are unpopular.

    But the danger is some of the appeal of the job to many. Many cops would rather work a tough neighborhood than some quiet suburb. Few cops want to sit behind a desk.

    In contrast, firefighters are universally loved, and firefighting is periodically exciting. They are ALWAYS thanked for doing their job. Hence there can be more ff applicants than wanted or needed, which is why cities put up impediments to applying for urban union firefighter (limited time frame for applying, little active advertising or recruiting, extra requirements before one even applies such as EMT1, etc.).

  6. Post

    It’s interesting that quantifying the mortality danger is supposedly insulting to cops. After all, THEY have no problem telling everyone how dangerous their job is. And their police “think tanks” churn out propaganda about the dangers 24/7.

    What’s the problem with an objective comparison with other occupations? Why is it insulting? It is perhaps because it undermines the high compensation demands?

    And where are the firefighters in this debate? Perhaps they lay low because 72% of Americas firefighters are VOLUNTEERS. Hard to demand high pay for the risks when so many are willing to take the same risks for free.

  7. Post

    Which would you rather be:

    1. A police officer?

    2. A cab driver in the inner city?

    Which occupation entails more risk? Which worker is more helpless to deal with danger?

    Indeed, most cops would not trade their job to be a convenience store clerk on the night shift in the inner city — even for more money. No gun, no vest, no partner, no radio, no backup — just stand there behind the cash register full of money and hope the guy who walks up means you no harm.

  8. Richard,

    Your analogies get further off base each time you post and your comparisons are just downright idiotic. Maybe you need to come out of retirement and work in the real world again? I would suggest in a convenience store.

    By the way, Firefighters aren’t posting for the same reason nobody else is. You are not worth the time. The lack of responses would lead me to believe the public discounts your opinions. Even the usual public employee bashing groups (who refuse to back your many unsuccessful candidacies) are silent.

    And by the way…most people DO like cops. The three groups that don’t are crooks, politicians and unsuccessful politicians,

  9. Post

    To Tom Bostedt:

    Where in the WORLD did you get those ABSURDLY low mortality figures for the Vietnam War? Surely you know they are bogus. Why present them? What is your point?

    Or maybe you have lost any semblance of common sense and think these figures ARE valid? Is that possible? The numbers don’t pass the giggle test — and they DEFINITELY aren’t funny.

    Talk about insulting!!! My figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yours are from — well, where ARE they from??? Not this planet, I can assure you.

    Get a grip! According to your calculations, a military person stationed in Vietnam during our war there was anywhere from 60% to 99% safer (depending on the year selected) than a stateside cop. Does that make ANY sense to you at all?

    And if stationed in Afghanistan during the war, your figure of 0.2 deaths annually per hundred thousand servicemen there is simply mindboggling. That makes being a U.S. policeman about 84 times more dangerous than serving in Afghanistan.

    You’ve embarrassed police officers everywhere with this truly pathetic attempt to make police work look far more dangerous than serving our country in wartime. You should be ashamed.

  10. Richard,

    I find your analysis in this article substantially flawed and limited in scope. I am not sure how you quantify danger simply by looking at the number of officers killed in the line of duty as compared to other professions.

    It was mentioned above, but roughly sixty thousand officers are assaulted every year by gunfire, knives etc. You can check this number by looking at FBI stats in the UCR, which is published every year.

    By your method of determining danger, an officer like SDPD’s Dan Walter (shot, run over by a car and paralyzed from the shoulders down in the same incident) is not even considered, yet he remains a daily reminder of how dangerous this job is for officers.

    Next, the topic that nobody every likes to discuss is police suicide. Suicide is responsible for more officer deaths every year than deaths suffered in the line of dutyy. There is no doubt that suicide rates for officers are directly related to their job duties, they are probably under reported, and they are not included in the statistics in your original post. I don’t know if they should be, but suicide is a danger associated with this profession that is not considered in your simplistic analysis.

    If you want to discuss other health dangers from this profession, please read any one of a number of books by Dr. John Violanti.

    Lastly, outside your mortality analysis, please don’t attempt to explain why people don’t want to be cops. It has almost nothing to do with people not liking you. I have a son and I would never want him to be a cop. If he asked me my opinion about becoming a cop I would tell him the following:

    John, being a cop is an honorable profession and one that you can truly make a difference for people and enrich a community. However, you need to balance this with the devastating impact it can take on your health, your marriage, and your relationship with just about everyone in your life. I could provide him a laundry list of injuries I have suffered on duty that would make him not want to have this job, but those pale in comparison to the emotional trauma which builds everyday and manifests itself in a number of ways.

    If you want to make an objective comparison with the dangers of other professions and law enforcement, let’s have it but it will not be limited solely to the data presented in your original post.

    Jeff Jordon
    police officer/SDPOA board member

  11. Mr. Rider,

    I guess this article reveals the measure of your character and callousness to actually publish it on the heels of Officer Chris Wilson’s death and on the eve of Veterans Day.

    I’m also sure you’ve made Rostra management cringe in embarrassment, by evidence of Jim Sills’ touching posting of “Memoriam” for SDPD officers.

    In fact, you should be ashamed Mr. Rider.

  12. Post

    Well, it IS true than many if not most cops and firefighters manage to go out on partial or total “disability.” Not that the disability has to be work related, mind you. Most 50-something guys would qualify under the incredibly lax standards for what constitutes a California public safety worker disability — sports dings, “bad back,” sprained thumb (yes, there was such a case), high blood pressure, etc.

    But that’s another scandal waiting to be reported. It’s been covered before to some degree, but much remains below the surface.

    Not that there are are no cases of legitimate disability. I have no problem with such a benefit, properly applied.

    And indeed, in fairness, the city of San Diego does a better job than most jurisdictions in reining in this abuse. I’m speaking of the widespread disability ruse common in most state and local governments where the retiree inappropriately gets up to half his retirement income income tax free — avoiding 70% or more of the taxes owed.

  13. Post

    I use mortality figures because they are the only figures available. If someone has the INJURY figures between occupations, that would be great to see and compare.

    But I think I’ll take a group of 50-some age roofers and put their job injuries and infirmities up against the same age police and firefighters any day.

  14. We have edited Scipio March’s comment above to reflect Mr. Sills as a blogger for Rostra, which he is (and a good one). He is not Thor’s Assistant (yours truly). We may not tell you who someone is, but we will tell you who they’re not. As for Rostra “management” cringing over Mr. Rider’s post, what management would that be? We are open to any posts — within reason — by our stable of bloggers, even ones that may be controversial to some, or many.

  15. Post

    Scipio, be advised that I published that comment to my readers and lists nationwide. Indeed, it was a piece I had prepared last month before the San Diego shooting, so I waited until after the funeral — and nowhere referenced this specific tragedy.

    Tell me — how long should I have waited to put out this GENERIC comparison of police mortality vs. other occupations. A month after the funeral? Six months? Never?

  16. Post
  17. Mr. Rider,

    Your logic is very interesting to say the least. Comparing a Logger to a Cop or a Flight Engineer to a Cop is not really fair or an accurate comparison of danger. How many Loggers are being compared to how many police officers. How many flight engineers are being compared to how many police officers? By your figures being a flight engineer is 4 or 5 times more dangerous than a cop. So if we have 500 flight engineers across the whole country and 5 died in the line of duty it would appear on paper to be much more dangerous than the 150 or so cops that get killed in the line of duty because there are let’s say 50,000 for arguments sake in the USA. The figures you are using help your argument and that is clear.

    However I have a hard time believing there are 100,000 Cops in the USA and an even harder time with 100,000 loggers or flight engineers.

    My point being for an accurate comparison to be made on the danger level you would need to be comparing equal quantities. Find other jobs that have a similar level of employees nation wide and than compare those. The logic you are using is like comparing a big city to a small city.. IE a hypothetical city of exactly 100,000 people had 10 murders in 2009 which is twice the national average and a city of 1,000,000 had 50 murders in 2009. By your logic you are twice as safe to be in the big city as you are in the small city because the big city is on par with the national average of 5 homicides per 100,000 people and the hypothetical city of 100,000 people had 10 which puts it at double the national average.

    To close…. yes the publication of this article was in poor taste and even worse timing. You insinuated in your blog posts that there is never a good time to post an article like this. I wonder why that is…perhaps it is due to the fact that a police officer is killed nationally every 2 days or so? Your article is based out of San Diego. You should visit http://www.odmp.org and do some research on the last time a San Diego Police Officer was shot and killed in the line of duty. I think you could have waited to make your point a little longer. Your article was smacks of…why do these cops make such a big deal when one of their own gets killed. there job really isn’t THAT dangerous. That’s pretty to for you to say from the comfort of your office. If you don’t think our job is dangerous I encourage you to go on 5 or so ride alongs to get a fair taste for the business.

  18. Ross, it fascinates me that cognitive adults such as yourself choose to so clearly demonstrate their ignorance in public. Your innumeracy is simply breathtaking — though not that unusual.

    Insurance companies, actuaries and others make mortality, injury, disease and other comparisions PER hundred thousand of a population group — such as an occupation. My stats are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and clearly the occupational deaths are listed as PER hundred thousand. Obviously you have no idea how to make such a calculation when the group being analyzed is any number OTHER than 100,000.

    Frankly, your innumeracy and the related distrust of numbers is all too common. But most people have sense enough not to demonstrate their inability to understand math — to avoid publishing a comment smugly informing someone who DOES understand numbers how wrong they are. You stand out for your confident admission of your arithmetic ignorance.

    Then you compound your ignorance of math with an inability to do any research — even in this day of the Internet. You suggest that there are about 50,000 cops (and certainly no more than 100,000) in America — apparently to make the 150 annual cop deaths look more impressive.

    Allow me to quickly do the research you chose not to do.

    “Police and detectives held about 883,600 jobs in 2008.”

    According to your police-memorializing website, in 2009, the latest complete year, in the U.S. there were 128 police deaths on the job (including 5 supposedly related to 9/11 in NYC).

    Now pay attention, Ross. To calculate the deaths per 100,000, you divide 128 by 8.836. That gives a 2009 death rate of 14.9 per 100,000 police officers.

    This is a lower than average year for such deaths, based on recent experience. So let’s accept the 2006 BLS figure of 16.8 police deaths per 100,000 police.

    As an aside, some might be interested in how the 128 officers died. And let’s be clear — EACH if these deaths is a tragedy, however death occurred. Just as a each death in OTHER occupations is a tragedy.

    Total Line of Duty Deaths: 128

    9/11 related illness: 5
    Accidental: 1
    Aircraft accident: 4
    Assault: 1
    Automobile accident: 34
    Duty related illness: 3
    Gunfire: 47
    Gunfire (Accidental): 2
    Heart attack: 9
    Motorcycle accident: 3
    Struck by vehicle: 7
    Vehicle pursuit: 3
    Vehicular assault: 9

    One other point, Ross — your ODMP website includes in the listed law enforcement deaths such groups as military police and prison guards — numbers that are NOT included in the 883,600 BLS-listed police and detectives used in this calculation. Hence it appears that the death rate is somewhat skewed higher by including these groups.

  19. Wiki.answers????? Really???

    Tom, that’s about two levels below the veracity we can expect from the National Inquirer!!!! These are unsourced answers provided by anonymous posters in response to a question on the website — in this case an answer by someone with the same numerical skills and research gifts as yourself.

    Forget statistical fine point accuracy. Apply a little common sense and ballpark estimating. Call it a sniff test.

    Does it make sense that being stationed in Vietnam during the war was FAR, FAR safer than being a police officer stateside? That’s the conclusion of these bogus stats.

    Okay, let’s dig deeper (though the sniff test should suffice).

    There were probably 600,000 (or more) police officers nationwide during that Vietnam War time frame. That is a SWAG on my part — based on the fact that in the 1960’s we had a smaller population than we have today with our 883,600 police force

    Back in the sixties, I believe that there were significantly more police deaths than today. Again, I don’t have the exact figures, but about 200 deaths annually is likely a reasonable guess.

    Dividing 200 by 6.0 would give us a death rate per 100,000 police officers of 33.3, about double today’s police death rate.

    So what would be the death rate in Vietnam? At he height of the war in 1968, we had about 540,000 personnel in Vietnam. That year we had over 14,000 killed.

    Do the grisly math, and you’ll find that the mortality rate that year in Vietnam was 14,000 divided by 5.4 — which comes to over 2,592 deaths per hundred thousand. That shows that serving in Vietnam that year was over 78 times more dangerous than being a cop back then.

    Now, let’s look again at your authoritative Wiki.Answers figure for that year — 7.08 military deaths per 100,000. 7.08 deaths vs. the real figure of over 2,592 deaths.

    Think of it this way — for us to have 7.08 deaths per 100,000, and over 14,000 deaths overall, that would mean that we had to have TWO HUNDRED MILLION troops fighting in Vietnam that year. Again, the sniff test.

    Incredibly, you accepted this RIDICULOUS Wiki.answer figure without question. The sniff test should have been enough to tell you how bogus this information was.

    And then you compounded your mistake by proceeded to snidely impugn my work on that basis. It’s okay to be wrong (even I am wrong from time to time), but it was your smugness that drove me to respond in a hostile manner

    Yes, I’m sometimes guilty of the same smugness — but I try to be as accurate as possible. You need to work on that..

    Tom, for now, a simple apology from you will suffice — not so much to me as to our service personnel in wartime (especially the in-country Vietnam vets) who take on far greater risks of death or serious injury than any stateside police officer.

    Not to beat a dead horse (a.k.a. you), but where in the world did you get the astonishingly low 0.2 deaths per 100,000 service personnel in the Afghanistan war? Don’t make me run the numbers in this conflict as well.

  20. Let’s not make this look like me trying to trivialize our military losses. Try to be a bigger man than that (if that is possible).

    The numbers used are based on all US military personnel serving worlwide during the years in question. That would include those not serving in-country in Vietnam. Obviously if you limit it to only in-country, where the fighting was being done, the rate increases.

    As for the numbers you cite from the BLS study, are they specific to patrol officers in the field where the fighting is being done who are more likely to be killed?? Most likely they include ALL law enforcement including those whose regular duties may not place them in the volatile situations where officers are more likely to suffer GBI or death.

    Being a cop or a firefighter is a dangerous and a noble profession. Those who choose to serve others KNOWING there is a chance they will be killed or seriously injured should be thanked, not ridiculed by the likes of you.

    I am done posting on this subject. As I said earlier, few people thought your original article was worth commenting. That should tell you a lot about people’s opinion of you. I am sure you will feel the need to get in the last word to satisfy your ego so have at it.

  21. Post

    Tom, why on EARTH do you keep posting about elementary math that you are incapable of comprehending?? All the more odd since I just did the math for you. This is indeed fascinating.

    You make the insane claim that the super low Vietnam mortality figures you cited were accurate — they just included ALL the U.S. military worldwide, as opposed to those who were serving in Vietnam.


    Go back and read my 1968 example of over 14,000 Vietnam service deaths among the roughly 540,000 military personnel stationed there. For your bogus “mortality rate of 7.08 deaths per 100,000 servicemen” to be accurate, we’d have to have over TWO HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE IN MILITARY UNIFORM WORLDWIDE IN 1968. While admittedly I don’t know the total service personnel active that year –I suspect it was a tad shy of that unimaginable figure.

    Furthermore, your inclusion of all the rest of the military around the world assumes that NOT ONE ADDITIONAL death of any service member occurred on the job outside Vietnam. No plane crashes, vehicle accidents, training tragedies, or other deaths. As you will note with the cop fatalities YOU brought up, quite a number of them are not “combat” related.

    Is your “zero deaths worldwide” assumption realistic? Sorry, I realize that’s an inappropriate question to ask you.

    It is noteworthy that you have chosen not to apologize to our troops for your dogged determination to trivialize their mortality risks. That says a lot about you, actually.

    But I must commend you for one good idea — that you will not post again. THAT is a sound decision — one you should have stuck to earlier. This time, try to honor your commitment.

  22. Mr Rider,

    You certainly have a high opinion of your own intelligence and your use of statistics serve your purpose well. You picked the statistics to back up your argument and make it appear that police work is relatively safe.

    I’m sure if you took a survey of some aircraft pilots and recycleable collectors and asked them if they thought their job was more or less dangerous than being a cop. We both know what their answer would be.

    The most glaring point that you are missing is the following. IE… The extremely dangerous recycling jobs that you refer to with your statistics (recycling is 2x as dangerous). How many of these hardworking recyclers and trash collectors were murdered at work? We both know that answer as well (few if any). Your logic is fundamentally flawed and I stand by my original point. You are comparing apples and oranges. You cited there are 880,000 cops working in the USA. The link that was posted with your original post stated 655,000 for patrol officers. 655k cops are being compared against 91,000 trash collectors and 36,000 fisherman.

    For an accurate estimation of danger you would have to find an equal population to look at. Additionally as Tom stated you need to calculate your figures off of patrol cops since that is where a vast majority of the fatalities occur.

    Richard, you seem to take some pride in how overwhelming smart and articulate you believe yourself to be. You also seem to belittle my inteligence like I am not smart enough to do some basic multiplication and long division. To this I would tell you I did take statistics in college and I (along with everyone else) knows how statistics and numbers can easily be manipulated to prove a point. The fact is I did not sit down and research exactly how many cops there are and do the leg work to check the FBI UCR for crime statistics. As it was pointed out to you before most of your work is focused on fatalities and that only covers a small portion of the danger we face everyday. Your statistics and logic point towards the idea that danger is only gauged by fatalities and not by an overall scope of danger (assaults, disease, suicide, shortened life span etc)

    However the fact remains I don’t have to ask you or anybody else to know exactly how dangerous my job is because I do it every day and know the real danger not the statistical danger.

  23. I don’t understand the point this post is making. Their job really isn’t that dangerous therefore….what? They don’t get a pension? Using that logic, shouldn’t we start a government pension for fishermen? Because, after all, you don’t deserve a government pension unless your job is dangerous and a lot of people die from being a fisherman.

    They shouldn’t get pensions because savings your own money (if that is what you chooe to do) in a 401(k) is better philosophically and economically. They at least shouldn’t get bloated pensions because no municipality can afford them. (Proof? See the city of San Diego’s budget)

    Mr. Rider’s other breakdown in logic is that the numbers used are for “on the job deaths”. Implying that because more people don’t die means that your job simply isn’t that dangerous and therefore not really worth giving you a lot of money is ridiculous and borderline dishonest. Mr. Rider’s notion that a safety mortality rate is the measure of job danger is false.

    Most jobs involve no danger of people shooting at you or a burning building falling on top of you. Because cops and firefighters are in danger of getting shot or having a burning building fall on top of them, they train hard and for many hours. It is due to this training that statistically less of them die than fishermen.

    It is the necessity of the tasks performed by cops and firefighter in order to live in a modern society and the fantastic job they do due to their amazing training that makes these men and women worth much more than just money. It is the laws of economics and not a simple lack of respect for how “dangerous” their job is that restricts us from ensuring they will become millionaires. This makes their sacrifices even more amazing.

    Arguing over which is more dangerous….Vietnam or hosing down a house fire is…well….it’s…my thesaurus can’t provide an adequate or strong enough substitute for “stupid”.

  24. Post

    Michael — “stupid” is your best shot??

    Let met tell you about “stupid.” Stupid is you hurling such an unimaginative insult without first READING the thread — or perhaps not comprehending what you read.

    For you see, it was not I who brought up the military war comparison. It was numerically crippled Tom Bostedt (your ALLY in this matter)) who presented bogus Vietnam War mortality rate figures to somehow claim that the Vietnam war was no more dangerous than being a cop. I simply corrected his false figures (admittedly with ah bit of flair).

    So Tom is “stupid”? Well, I guess you know best.

  25. Post

    Ross, if we accept as fact your assertion concerning the necessity of having equal numbers in a sample comparison, we simply cannot validly compare crime rates between cities unless they are essentially the same population. I bet that’s news to the FBI and every other keeper of crime stats in the nation.

    Nor can we compare crime rates (including mortality rates) between — say — blacks and whites, as there are more whites than blacks. Or between age groups, as the numerical populations of such groups are different. Nor can we compare crime rates of illegal aliens with citizens, as the groups are of different size.

    Of course, the same inability to compare would apply to disease rates. The Insurance companies and their actuaries who have been doing these comparisons for generations will be devastated to learn of their own statistical folly.

    In essence, you deny that the number of crimes (or deaths, or whatever) is any different than the crime RATE (or, in this case, mortality rate).

    I must admit that I find such absurd reasoning on your part truly fascinating. It is fascinating in that you are not alone in thinking that way. Apparently at least two other reasonably educated people posting here agree with you.

    I really don’t think I can explain it to y’all. It’s hopeless. Perhaps, I suspect, it’s hopeless because you folks aren’t particularly interested in the truth. Ah well.

  26. i love it…the intellectual acumen of the toadies for the cops is demonstrated nicely here. what a bunch of dullards.

    for all you law enforcement types read this carefully…it turns out that your job isn’t as dangerous as you think when compared to the rest of us…SO STOP YOUR FRIKKIN’ WHINING!

    and all the firefighter types know full well that the building codes in california have virtually eliminated house fires. we build for life safety. fireblocking, ventilation, electrical and gas plumbing codes mean most neighborhoods go yeears without a structure fire. and have most of you guys retiring in fine shape.

    if you guys are smart you’ll start keeping your heads down or Rider will make the ridiculous pay packages a hot topic. my favorite little nugget you pocket is the extra pay for being certified as EMT. what a racket you have going.

  27. What is totally lacking in this discussion is perspective. Notice that Richard’s post says public safety work is dangerous, and not. In other words, if public safety unions want to justify their fleecing of the public fisc, they should be honest with the taxpayers and not overplay their hazard. I have been on ridealongs, including with Grupo Beta along the Mexican border. There is no doubt public safety workers have a more hazardous job than some … and not others.
    The real question is do they deserve a gurranteed 80-90% salary the rest of their lives? Sometimes in excess of 100K? Does that make sense given the retirement of those they serve? And it is public service, is it not? They do know the nature of the job when they go in. Honestly, do you want to justify your protected union wages and benefits to the Marine Corporal in Afghanistan?

  28. Guys, this poll doesn’t define “danger”. The lack of deaths on the job is not the definition of a dangerous job.

    Example, let’s say what if you want to walk 1000 feet of tight rope over a 1000 foot canyon. The danger is falling to your death. It doesn’t matter if you practice 1 time or 10,000 times, the danger is still falling to your death. Just because you are good at walking a tight rope doesn’t make it less dangerous. Training increases your chances of success, yes, but it doesn’t reduce or remove the danger.

    No matter how many hours “Mike the carpenter” works with wood, he will never get shot by a drugged up bank robber. He is in no danger of that at all. Cops are. They are trained to deal with it so their success rate is high, but it does not remove the danger.

    Mr. Rider is distorting statistics with a huge break in logic. And the implication that they deserve less money because they’ve trained hard to be able to survive their career is a weak argument. That is not to say that pensions do not need to be reformed and overtime pay policies examined, but it is to say that we shouldn’t do it for Mr. Rider’s reason. Arguments like this only weaken the stance of fiscal responsibility. Frankly, this entire argument by Mr. Rider is borderline dishonest and certainly lacks in character.

    Don’t turn on people who enter a line of public service to help people. Turn on the politicians who screwed up their expectations and all of our finances.

  29. Post

    According to Michael’s “reasoning,” anyone who dares suggest that police work is not just about most dangerous work in the world is somehow “borderline dishonest and certainly lacks in character.” I guess it’s okay to claim that police work IS extremely dangerous, but reasoned dissent using facts is somehow dishonest.

    Here’s another evil comparison of dangerous jobs — this one from CNN. The article lists America’s ten most dangerous occupations. Police and firefighters aren’t even mentioned, as their jobs, while entailing risk, are significantly less dangerous than these occupations. Moreover, the evil reporter uses the same mortality rate stats that I did. The least dangerous job of the ten categories (taxi drivers and chauffeurs) is about a third more risky than being a police officer or fire fighter.

    I’m sure CNN and the reporter would be startled to discover that they are “borderline dishonest and certainly lack in character.”

  30. Mr. Rider is distorting yet again.

    Not that I need to point this out to all of you, he already has quite a reputation for doing this. At no time did I suggest that “anyone who dares suggest that police work is not just about most dangerous work in the world is somehow ‘borderline dishonest and certainly lacks in character.’” What is clear to anyone who read what I wrote is that the conclusion Mr. Rider came to is a distortion of the statistics and is not representative of the on the job danger that cops and firemen face. To suggest so, like Mr. Rider did, is “borderline dishonest and certainly lacks character”.

    I know the difference. You know the difference. Mr. Rider knows the difference.

    Mr. Rider, your suggestions and implications in the above article that you authored is “borderline dishonest and lacks character”. And your last response is not your real understanding of what I criticized you for. Your response was also nothing more than a distraction from your attempt to marginalize the individual firemen and policemen rather than make a logical and philosophical argument for the elected on all levels of government to right the financial ship based on economics.

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