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 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 during 2014, 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 in December by the shooting deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian 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 for 2013 – 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 Sept. 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.