Indiana now a leader in line of duty deaths as nation sees increase

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty is on the rise, according to new numbers from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

So far in 2018, 144 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, a 12 percent increase compared to 2017 when 129 were killed.

Five of the 144 officers who died in the line of duty were Hoosiers.

“It’s just another stark reminder of what our officers do day in and day out,” Indianapolis FOP president Rick Snyder said.

Firearm related fatalities were the most common cause of death, responsible for claiming the lives of 52 officers. The number marked a 13 percent increase compared to the 46 officers killed in firearms-related incidents in 2017.

While shooting deaths increased by double digit percentages, nearly every other cause of death also increased. 50 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, marking a 9 percent increase, and 42 officers died of causes other than firearms- or traffic-related incidents, which is a 14 percent increase.

“We recognize that we should be putting forward every effort to try to drive these numbers down,” Snyder said.

With its total of five line of duty deaths, Indiana is now the seventh highest in the country when it comes to officer deaths. Both Boone County Deputy Jake Pickett and Terre Haute police officer Rob Pitts were killed by gunfire.

“I think ultimately what it comes down to is that it holds a mirror to our society and really begs the question what is going on in our society today,” Snyder said.

Of the other three line of duty deaths in Indiana, Fort Wayne Police Officer David Tinsley suffered a fatal heart attack after the pursuit of a suspect in a stolen car, Charlestown police Sergeant Ben Bertram was killed in a vehicle crash while involved in a pursuit, and Sergeant Ed Bollman of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources drowned while attempting a rescue in Madison County.

“Every officer that raises their right hand they do sign a blank check to their communities that they recognize can be cashed at any time, and that includes up to their life,” Snyder said.

Snyder says a goal across the country is to get the number of line of duty deaths below the 100 mark, something that hasn’t been done since 1944.

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