Ambush Project

Conflict between police and their communities manifest itself in many ways. Perhaps the most profound type of conflict is one that involves physical violence between the police and members of the public. Such conflict causes distrust, strains police-community relations, and raises concerns about police legitimacy. Past research has extensively covered police use of force, including detailed case studies and the influence of various factors, including case law, administrative protocol, and the characteristics of the involved parties. However, research on violence against the police has been less prevalent. Even less prevalent has been research on one type of assault on the police, ambush attacks.

IACP, in partnership with CNA, is seeking to fill this void in research on ambushes of police and use the knowledge gained to inform policy, training, and operational practices in U.S. police departments.The project team will review existing research and literature on the topic, analyze data sets of assaults on police officers, present the research review and data analysis to a series of focus groups comprised of leading practitioners and academics specializing in officer safety, and produce and disseminate reports, guides, and other materials based on research, analysis, and focus group findings to the field. The project team will produce and contribute to:

  • The first comprehensive analysis of data on ambush attacks on the police
  • A series of practitioner-focused, downloadable materials summarizing project findings
  • Informative articles in IACP's Police Chief Magazine
  • Policy guidelines for preventing and protecting against ambush attacks

Ambush Fact Sheet

Ambush Fact Sheet

This report, developed based on findings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) in the Line of Duty data collection program, provides a comprehensive look at the nature of ambush attacks perpetrated against law enforcement officers in the United States since 1990. It defines classifications of ambush attacks, incident trends, and overviews of agency, victim, and perpetrator data, weapons used in ambushes, and survivability and clearance rates.

A February 2014 Officer Safety Corner Column in Police Chief Magazine, developed based on findings from a series of focus groups with law enforcement executives convened at the 120th Annual IACP Conference in Philadelphia in October 2013, also provides more insight into the oft-neglected and overlooked topic of ambushes against law enforcement officers. This article can be accessed here.


How Can I Help?

The project team is interested in obtaining incident and after-action reports of ambush attacks on law enforcement officers to further inform this important initiative. If you wish to provide copies of such reports or any additional information pertinent to the topic, please contact project staff at



For more information on officer safety please contact: 


In Partnership With:

CNA Logo


This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number #2013-CK-WX-K022 awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.