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145 Officers died in the line of duty in 2018

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: April 10, 2019

— Excerpted from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

The number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty nationwide in 2018 rose 12 percent compared to those killed in 2017, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. As of Dec. 27, 2018, 144 federal state and local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty compared to 129 officers killed in 2017.

Unfortunately, one more officer was added to that total after the 2018 Preliminary End of Year Law Enforcement Fatalities Report was released, bringing the total tally to 145, said Steve Groeninger, Memorial Fund Senior Director of Communications & Marketing.

“The rising number of law enforcement officer deaths in 2018 is disappointing news after a decline in 2017,” declared National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Founding CEO Emeritus Craig W. Floyd. “Sadly, this reminds us that public safety is a dangerous job and can come at a very steep price. We must never take the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers for granted, and we must remember the families of the fallen who are left behind.”

Firearms-related and traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of deaths in 2018 with 53 officers killed in firearms-related incidents and 50 in traffic-related incidents. That’s a 15 percent rise from the 46 firearms-related fatalities in 2017 and a 9 percent increase from 2017 traffic-related deaths.

Among the firearms-related fatalities:
• 14 occurred while officers were attempting to place an individual under arrest.
• Eight officers were killed while conducting an investigative activity.
• Seven were killed responding to public disturbance calls.
• Six were killed responding to domestic disturbances.
• Five were ambushed in 2018, a 50 percent decrease over 2017.
• Four officers were shot and killed conducting traffic stops. Two were killed while serving warrants and two while handling or transporting prisoners. Two officers were inadvertently shot by other law enforcement personnel. One officer was killed responding to a burglary; one during a tactical situation and one was killed while responding to a call for an armed suicidal suspect. 

Handguns were the leading type of firearm used against law enforcement in 2018. Of the 53 officer fatalities, 32 officers were shot and killed with a handgun and four were disarmed and shot with their own duty weapons.

Of the 50 traffic-related fatalities, 32 officers were killed in crashes. Fourteen were struck outside of their vehicle, a 56 percent increase over the nine officers struck and killed in 2017. Four more were killed in motorcycle crashes. The 32 crashes included 16 single-vehicle crashes, an increase of 14 percent over the previous year when 14 officers died in single-vehicle crashes. Seven of the single-vehicle deadly crashes involved officers responding to a call for service or as backup to another officer.

Officer deaths from other causes also rose in 2018 to 42, a 14 percent increase over the 37 who died in 2017. These were due to the following:
• Job-related illnesses such as heart attacks or strokes were the cause of 33 officer deaths, a 57 percent increase over the 21 who died in 2017.
• Cancers caused 15 officer deaths related to search and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centers.
• Four other officers drowned, three were beaten to death, and a train struck and killed two officers.

The most 2018 line of duty deaths occurred in Texas, Florida, California, and New York with 11 each. North Carolina had seven deaths; Georgia had six; Indiana and South Carolina each had five. Two territorial officers and 10 federal officers also died in 2018. Of the fallen officers, 135 were male and 10 were female. The average age was 41 years with an average length of 12 years of service.

There are 21,541 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to 1791. The statistics released are based on preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2019.

Click here for a complete copy of the preliminary 2018 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report

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