WASHINGTON – Law enforcement officer fatalities nationwide decreased by 23 percent during 2012, with 127 federal, state and local officers killed in the line of duty, according to preliminary data compiled and released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).
The number one cause of officer fatalities in 2012 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 50 lives, followed closely by 49 officers who were killed by gunfire this past year. Twenty-eight officers died due to other causes.
This year’s significant drop in law enforcement fatalities follows a two-year period when the number of officer deaths had seen an alarming increase. There were 154 officer fatalities in 2010 and 165 in 2011.
The statistics released by the NLEOMF and Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) 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 2013.
For a complete copy of the preliminary report on 2012 law enforcement fatalities, go to: www.LawMemorial.org/ResearchBulletin.
Key Data as of Dec. 26, 2012:
- Traffic-related fatalities declined 17 percent in 2012 (50) compared to 2011 (60). Of these 50 officers, 30 were killed in auto accidents, 14 were struck outside their vehicle and six were killed in motorcycle accidents.
- After a two-year increase, firearms-related fatalities declined by 32 percent in 2012 (49) compared to 2011 (72). Of the 49 officers, 15 were killed in ambushes; nine were killed during traffic stops or while in pursuit; five were killed in drug-related incidents; five were killed responding to a robbery; four were killed while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; three were killed responding to domestic disturbance calls; and two each were killed while attempting an arrest, responding to a disturbance call, or from accidental shootings. One officer was killed responding to a burglary in progress and one was killed during an investigative activity.
- Of the 28 officers who died due to other causes, 14 were caused by job-related illnesses; five officers were stabbed; three officers fell to their death; two officers each were killed in helicopter accidents and beatings; one officer was killed in an aircraft accident; and one officer was killed in a boating incident.
- During the past year, more officers were killed in Texas (10) than any other state; followed by Georgia (eight); Colorado and Maryland (six); and Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania (five).
- Nine officers killed in 2012 served with federal law enforcement agencies. Seven of the officers who died during the past year served with correctional agencies. Thirteen of the 127 fatalities were female. On average, the officers who died in 2012 were 41 years old and had served for 12 years.
“The loss of any officer is unacceptable and devastating to their family, their community and our nation. However, I am encouraged to see a significant decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed in 2012 after two years of alarming increases in the number of fatalities. The law enforcement community has banded together with laser-like focus on peace officer safety at the federal, state and local levels and I believe these numbers are reflective of those combined efforts. By continuing to work together in this fashion we can make great strides to ensure that each officer returns home safely at the end of his or her shift,” said Craig W. Floyd , the Memorial Fund’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“As 2012 comes to a close, I rejoice because line-of-duty deaths for the past year are down by more than 20 percent. We are closer to being below 100 peace officer fatalities than we have been for many years. But I am still painfully aware that 127 families will celebrate the New Year without their officer. I find comfort knowing that these families will be embraced by the law enforcement community and given the support and love they will need as they embark on their journey through grief. Through the efforts of the NLEOMF and C.O.P.S., they know they do not walk this path alone,” said Madeline Neumann, the National President of Concerns of Police Survivors.