Law enforcement fatalities in the U.S. rose 24 percent in 2014, reversing what had been two years of dramatic declines in line of duty deaths, based on preliminary data compiled and released today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).
According to the NLEOMF report, 126 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013. The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 (50) was 56 percent higher than the number killed by gunfire in 2013 (32). Ambush-style attacks, as evidenced earlier this month by the shooting deaths of New York City Police OfficersWenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while sitting in their marked patrol car, were the number one cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth year in a row. Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, matching 2012 for the highest total since 1995.
Forty-nine officers were killed in traffic-related incidents this past year, which was an 11 percent increase from 2013. Twenty-seven officers died due to other causes in 2014, including 24 who suffered from job-related illnesses—such as heart attacks—while performing their duties.
In 2011, officer fatalities spiked to 171, which led to a number of new initiatives and policy changes aimed at promoting law enforcement safety. The result was a sharp decline in line-of-duty deaths to 123 in 2012 and 102 last year—the lowest fatality figure since 1944. Over the past decade the average annual number of officer deaths has been 151. The deadliest year ever for law enforcement was 1930 when 300 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. The deadliest single incident was the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, resulting in 72 officer deaths. There are more than 20,000 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to the first known death in 1791.
“We issue this report each year as a stark reminder that some 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers go out each and every day putting their lives on the line for our safety and protection,” explained NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “These brave men and women are willing to lay down their lives for us. The least we should do is honor and remember their service and sacrifice, support their families and do all that we can to make it safer for those who continue to serve.”
The statistics released by the NLEOMF are based on preliminary data compiled and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2015.
For a complete copy of the preliminary report on 2014 law enforcement fatalities, go to: www.LawMemorial.org/FatalitiesReport.
Key Data as of December 29, 2014:
- Firearms-related incidents were the number one cause of officer deaths in 2014, with 50. This was a 56 percent increase over the 32 officers shot and killed in 2013.
- Ambush attacks resulted in 15 officer deaths, the leading felonious cause of deaths among officers in 2014 and for the fifth straight year. The other leading categories of felonious deaths in 2014 were traffic stops or pursuits (8), investigating suspicious persons or activities (7), disturbance calls (6), attempting arrests (4), investigative activities (3), accidental shootings (2), burglary in progress (2), investigating drug-related matters (1), robbery in progress (1), and tactical situations (1).
- Traffic-related incidents were the second-leading cause of officer fatalities in 2014, with 49. This was an 11 percent increase over the 44 traffic-related deaths in 2013. Of these 49 officers, 35 were killed in automobile crashes, nine officers were struck and killed outside their vehicle and five officers were killed in motorcycle crashes.
- Of the 27 officers who died due to other causes this year, 24 were caused by job-related illnesses; one officer was strangled to death; one officer drowned; and one officer was killed in a fire-related incident.
- During the past year, more officers were killed in California (14) than any other state; followed by Texas (11); New York (9);Florida (6) and Georgia (5).
- Six officers killed in 2014 served with federal law enforcement agencies. Two of the officers who died during the past year served with correctional agencies, two were tribal officers and one was a military officer. Three of the 126 fatalities were female. On average, the officers who died in 2014 were 41 years old and had served for 12 years.
“With the increasing number of ambush-style attacks against our officers, I am deeply concerned that a growing anti-government sentiment in America is influencing weak-minded individuals to launch violent assaults against the men and women working to enforce our laws and keep our nation safe,” declared NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”
About the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, visit www.LawMemorial.org.