The number of law enforcement professionals nationwide who died in the line of duty in 2019 decreased 18 percent over the previous year according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that has long tracked officer fatalities.
The Memorial Fund announced in its 2019 Preliminary End-of-Year Law Enforcement Fatalities Report that 128 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty over the past year, representing an 18 percent decrease over the 157 officers who died in the line of duty in 2018.
Firearms-related fatalities claimed the lives of 49 officers in 2019, a six percent decrease compared to the 52 officers killed in firearms-related incidents in 2018. Of the 49 officer deaths, 8 officers were killed responding to domestic disturbance or public disturbance calls. Seven deaths occurred while officers were attempting to place an individual under arrest. Seven officers were killed while conducting investigative activity. Six officers were ambushed in 2019. Six officers were shot and killed while responding to a robbery. Four officers were killed while serving felony warrants and engaging in tactical activity.
Handguns were the leading type of firearm used against law enforcement in 2019. Of the 49 officer fatalities, 27 officers were shot and killed with a handgun; seven were shot and killed with a rifle and one officer was killed with a shotgun.
Traffic-related fatalities decreased 12 percent with 43 deaths in 2019 compared to 49 deaths in 2018. Of those, 13 officers were killed in crashes involving another vehicle or fixed object. Twelve officers were killed in single-vehicle crash, a 14 percent decrease over the previous year when 14 officers died in single-vehicle crashes. Seventeen officers were struck while outside of their vehicle, and one officer was killed in a motorcycle crash.
The number of officer deaths from other causes decreased 36 percent over the number of deaths from other causes in 2018. Thirty-six officers died of causes other than firearms- or traffic-related incidents, compared to the 56 officers who died in 2018. Job-related illnesses such as heart attacks or strokes were the cause of 19 officer deaths, a decrease of 37 percent over the 30 who died in 2018. Of those 36 deaths, 12 officers died due to cancers related to search and recovery efforts after the attack on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001. One officer was strangled, one died in a fire-related incident, one officer drowned and two were fatally beaten.
Texas had the highest number of fatalities with 17 officers who died in the line of duty. New York had 11 deaths, followed by California with 9 and Alabama with 7. Georgia, Illinois, and Tennessee each had six officer deaths. Florida and New Jersey each had five, followed by Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington each with four officer deaths. Ohio and Colorado each had three officer deaths. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia recorded no line of duty deaths in 2019.
Of the 2019 fallen officers, 119 were male and nine were female. The median age was 43 years with an average length of 14 years of service. On average, each officer left behind two children.
“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 a hundred officers lost their lives,” said National Law Enforcement Officers 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.”
There are currently 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 the first known death in 1786. The deadliest year on record for law enforcement was 1930 when 307 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. The last year officer fatalities dipped below 100 for a single year was 1944.
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 2020. For a complete copy of the preliminary 2019 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report, go to: www.LawMemorial.org/FatalitiesReport.