FBI data shows ‘line of duty’ deaths declined last year

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The number of law enforcement officers killed while on duty is declining according to new data from the FBI.

According to a portion of the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2017,” (LEOKA) 93 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2017; compared to 118 line of duty deaths in 2016.

The breakdown of the numbers shows an even split between accidental and felonious deaths; 47 deaths were caused by accidents like car or motorcycle crashes, while 46 were felonious, such as the officer being shot, stabbed or run over.

While the numbers do represent a year-over-year decrease, Indianapolis FOP President Rick Snyder contends they don’t tell the whole story.  Particularly here in Indiana, where Hoosiers have had three officers killed in less than a year.

 “There continues to be a rise in the viciousness of attacks, the number of officers who are shot in single event incidents, and the number of ambush style attacks. So we welcome these reductions, but we are still far from where we want to be which is zero,” Snyder said.

Snyder says the number of assaults against officers has also spiked, meanwhile more lives are being saved due to increases in medical care and protective resources for officers. The FBI says the agency plans on releasing data on assaults later this year.

Here is a breakdown of the data provided by the FBI:

The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 38 years old. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 11 years at the times of the fatal incidents. Of the 46 officers:

  • 43 were male
  • 3 were female
  • 35 were white
  • 9 were black/African-American
  • 2 were American Indian/Alaska Native

Circumstances

Of the 46 officers feloniously killed:

  • 21 died as a result of investigative or enforcement activities
    • 6 were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances
    • 6 were involved in tactical situations
    • 3 were conducting traffic violation stops
    • 2 were performing investigative activities
    • 1 was investigating a drug-related matter
    • 1 was investigating a motor vehicle crash
    • 1 was conducting a felony traffic stop
    • 1 was interacting with a wanted person
  • 6 were involved in pursuits
    • 4 were involved in foot pursuits
    • 2 were involved in vehicular pursuits
  • 5 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation)
  • 4 were involved in arrest situations
    • 3 were verbally advising offenders during the arrest situations
    • 1 was attempting to control/handcuff/restrain the offender(s) during the arrest situation
  • 3 were involved in unprovoked attacks
  • 2 were assisting other law enforcement officers
    • 1 was deploying or providing equipment such as traffic cones or flares
    • 1 was assisting another officer with a vehicular pursuit
  • 2 were responding to crimes in progress
    • 1 was a robbery in progress
    • 1 was a report of a shooting or shots being fired
  • 1 was on administrative assignment and was performing a prisoner transport
  • 1 responded to a disorder/disturbance and encountered a domestic disturbance upon arrival
  • 1 encountered or was assisting a person experiencing an emotional disturbance

Weapons

Offenders used firearms to kill 42 of the 46 victim officers. Three officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons, and one officer was killed with a knife. Of the 42 officers killed using firearms:

  • 32 were slain with handguns
  • 9 with rifles
  • 1 with a shotgun

Regions

Felonious deaths were reported in four U.S. regions and Puerto Rico.

  • 24 officers were feloniously killed in the South
  • 11 in the Midwest
  • 6 in the West
  • 3 in the Northeast
  • 2 in Puerto Rico

Suspects

Law enforcement agencies identified 44 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths.

  • 40 of the assailants had prior criminal arrests
  • 18 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the times of the felonious incidents

Accidental Deaths

Forty-seven law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2017, a decrease of five from the 52 officers accidentally killed in 2016. The majority (29 officers) were killed in automobile (car/truck/SUV/van) accidents.

Officer Profiles

The average age of officers who were accidentally killed was 40 years old. The average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 12. Of the 47 officers accidentally killed:

  • 45 were male
  • 2 were female
  • 41 were white
  • 3 were black/African-American
  • 2 were American Indian/Alaska Native
  • 1 was Asian

Circumstances

The 47 accidentally killed officers died in a variety of scenarios:

  • 29 died as a result of automobile accidents
  • 6 were struck by vehicles
  • 5 died in motorcycle or ATV accidents
  • 3 officers drowned
  • 2 were killed in an aircraft accident
  • 1 officer died in a watercraft accident
  • 1 officer died in another type of duty-related accident

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