Fewer police ambushes. We found three organizational factors that were associated with reduced numbers of ambushes against the police. The effect of requiring new officers to have at least some college education was a 54 percent decrease in ambush assaults. In addition, agencies that evaluated new hires on conflict management experienced, on average, 43 percent fewer ambushes than those that did not. Last, in-car cameras, measured by the ratio of cameras to patrol vehicles, were associated with fewer ambushes. Police agencies that had a camera in every patrol car experienced, on average, 61 percent fewer ambushes than those that did not.Besides those three things - better educated cops, screening recruits for de-escalation skills, and cameras in patrol cars - there was no other statistically significant, causal factor identified by DOJ which reduced ambush attacks. (See pp. 35-36 of the pdf.)
Think for a moment: Why would more educated cops or screening for de-escalation skills reduce ambushes, much less cameras in patrol cars? To the extent these factors correlate strongly to fewer ambushes, does it follow that less-well educated cops without de-escalation skills create greater risks of ambush deaths?
This is hard to understand because the data appear to blame the victims. To the extent we're talking about episodes like Deputy Darren Goforth's murder in Houston, it's difficult to see how greater education or de-escalation techniques might have prevented his death.
Still, the correlations are so strong for those three elements, there must be some explanation. Regardless of the reason, this finding should be of interest to the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which received an interim charge related to investigating ways to reduce police officers' on-the-job deaths. Those three suggestions are a good place to start.