Most Common Injuries Among Police Officers

May 04, 2018

Most Common Injuries Among Police Officers

by Ian D Scofield

Most police officers know that there is a good chance that they will get attacked at some point during their career. Injuries from an assault are one of the most well-known injuries in the law enforcement world but there are a number of other injuries that are common amongst law enforcement officers. We are going to talk about some of those injuries today. Knowing the most common injuries will help you to avoid them.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are common injury for anyone who has to go from nothing to exerting physical energy. For example going from your patrol car to a foot pursuit. As such police officers are subject to both sprains and strains on a regular basis. While they may not keep you  off the job for long, it can be painful and it could hinder your foot pursuit or other physical exertion. Furthermore, regular strains and sprains can compound and make you more likely to get another one in the future.

The good news is that it is possible to prevent sprains and strains. One of the best ways to do so is to stretch before any physical activity. Obviously you're not going to get out of your car and stretch before pursuing a subject, but before any planned or expected physical exertion you can stretch. Make sure to learn proper stretching technique so that you do not injure yourself while stretching.

Neck and Back Pain

As a police officer you wear a lot of equipment, and that weight is bound to wear on the body. No matter how much physical preparation you perform. Continual wear of a duty belt throughout your career can cause neck and back pain. Sometimes it can also cause temporary neck and back pain if you have bad posture or sit on it wrong.

A variety of equipment can be used to better spread the weight. Suspenders can reduce the weight on the waist or a load bearing vest can help to relocate the equipment.

Car Accident Trauma

Police officers are on the road for the majority of their shift, that puts them more at risk for traffic collisions than most people. I know two police officers who have been in on duty traffic accidents within the last year or so. In some cases a traffic accident will just result in bruising, others will end you up in the emergency room.

While you can’t prevent every accident, being vigilant will help you to avoid as many as possible.

Exposure To Chemicals, Toxins, and Biohazards

Exposure to any number of negative substances can occur while on the  job. We've already mentioned before that risk for exposure to Fentanyl is extremely high currently. Officers around the country have been exposed to it while responding to normal calls and searching vehicles. However, there are a number of other substances that you could be exposed to and might not even be aware.

There is a rather famous video of a police officer responding to a tanker accident without knowing what the tanker contained. When he arrived he found the tanker contained chemical hazards. The tanker was leaking and caused death to the person who was driving it and to the officer responding. Learning the signs of various chemicals and other substances will help you to avoid them in the field. As will taking proper PPE when it's called for.


We have already talked about the problems stress can cause for police officers, both mentally and physically. As stress continues on it will make you tired and distract you. Taking steps to reduce stress is important. Relaxation techniques and tools will help prevent stress related problems.

A Little More Information

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has a fairly thorough list of statistics on law enforcement injuries. You can find it here: One of the surprising causes of injuries is falls and trips. According to the study police officers spend more time away from work than the average worker after an injury.

Read through these common problems and identify ones that you are at risk for. Patrol officers are probably at risk for any of these conditions. Take steps to reduce the effect any of these conditions can have on you, it will help with your health in the long run and make it easier to do your job. Make sure that you stay both safe and healthy out there.

About The Author:

Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice.  He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content.  Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.

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