LAPPL Blog: The official blog of the Los Angeles Policy Protective League

Grim officer-fatality statistics at mid-year

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/25/2011 @ 04:14 PM

As we followed news reports in the first half of 2011, we suspected that law enforcement fatalities were up sharply. Sadly, statistics released this week by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) bear out our worst fears. Ninety-eight law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the first half of this year, up 14 percent over the 86 officers who lost their lives during the same period last year.

Equally alarming is the fact that 40 officers were killed by gunfire, a 33 percent increase over the same period last year, and the highest number in two decades.

As we’ve noted, it is very troublesome that police officer deaths are on the rise while overall crime rates are generally on the decline across the U.S.

NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd has a plausible theory for what is driving the higher number of line-of-duty deaths. “The economy,” he says, “has forced reductions in training, safety equipment and personnel at law enforcement agencies across America. These budget cuts have put our officers at greater risk, especially as they face a more brazen, cold-blooded criminal element and a continuing terrorist threat.” Last year, nearly 70 percent of police agencies cut back or eliminated training, according to a survey of 608 departments conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank.

In addition to the 40 officers killed by gunfire, 21 died in automobile crashes; 16 succumbed to job-related illnesses; seven were struck by automobiles while outside of their own vehicles; five were killed in motorcycle crashes; two were struck by a train; one officer died in an aircraft crash; one was beaten to death; one was electrocuted; one died in a fall; one was killed in a bomb blast; one was crushed to death; and one was strangled. The average age of the officers who have died in 2011 is 41. On average, they served for 13 years and eight of the officers who died were women.

These are sobering statistics and serve as a reminder that police officers work in a dangerous world. A death in the law enforcement family is felt deeply by everyone in the public safety profession, regardless of where it occurred. As we reflect on the grim statistics for the first half of 2011, let us resolve to do everything possible to protect ourselves and our colleagues from the dangers we face every day in our profession.

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