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2019 line-of-duty fatalities drop 18 percent compared to previous year

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: January 8, 2020

Excerpted from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

Law enforcement 2019 line-of-duty deaths dropped 18 percent compared to the previous year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

In 2019, 128 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty as opposed to 157 officers in 2018, as reported in the 2019 Preliminary End-of-Year Law Enforcement Fatalities Report.

“While we’re certainly pleased to see a decline in the number of officer line-of-duty-deaths this year, the reality is that more than 100 officers lost their lives,” said Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto. “That means we’ve still got a great deal of work to do. We’ve been tracking this information for more than 20 years, and the loss of even one life is difficult, particularly when these brave men and women wake up every day to keep the rest of us safe.”

Firearms-related fatalities were the leading cause of death in 2019 with a total of 49, a 6% drop compared to 52 in 2018. Of the 49 fatalities, eight officers were killed responding to domestic or public disturbance calls. Seven officers were attempting to arrest individuals and another seven were killed while conducting investigative activity. Six were ambushed and another six were shot and killed responding to a robbery. Four officers were killed while serving felony warrants and engaging in tactical activity.

Most of these officer deaths involved handguns. Twenty-seven were shot and killed with a handgun; seven with a rifle and one officer was killed with a shotgun.

Traffic-related fatalities decreased 12 percent, with 43 deaths compared to 49 deaths in 2018. Of those, 13 officers were killed in crashes with another vehicle or fixed object. Twelve died in single-vehicle crashes, 14 percent less than the 14 officers killed in 2018 single-vehicle crashes. Seventeen officers were struck and killed outside of their vehicle, and one was killed in a motorcycle crash.

Line-of-duty deaths due to other causes decreased 36 percent. Thirty-six officers died of causes other than firearms- or traffic-related incidents in 2019, while 56 officers were killed by other causes in 2018. Job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks or strokes, accounted for 19 officer deaths, a decrease of 37 percent over the 30 who died in 2018. Twelve officers died due to cancers related to search and recovery efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. One officer was strangled, one died in a fire-related incident, one drowned and two were fatally beaten.

Texas lost the most officers with 17 line-of-duty fatalities. New York had 11 deaths, followed by California with nine and Alabama with seven. Georgia, Illinois, and Tennessee each had six officer deaths. Florida and New Jersey each had five, followed by Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington with four deaths each. Ohio and Colorado each had three officer deaths. Six other states lost two officers each and 13 states lost one officer each. Six federal officers, three territorial and four tribal officers were killed in 2019.

Of the fallen in 2019, 119 were male and nine were female with a median age of 43 years and average of 14 years of service. On average, each officer left behind two children.

There are 21,910 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to 1786. 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 officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2020.

Click here for a complete copy of the preliminary 2019 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report.

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