After reaching a 50-year low in 2009, the number of U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty surged nearly 43 percent during the first six months of 2010, according to preliminary data released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Preliminary statistics show that 87 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty between January 1 and June 30, 2010. That compares with 61 officers who were killed during the first six months of 2009, an increase of 42.6 percent. By June 30, officer fatalities had already reached 75 percent of the total for all of 2009, which were 116. The 2009 figure represented the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 1959.
"It is certainly disheartening that last year’s encouraging news on officer fatalities has not continued into 2010," said NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd in a press release. "These latest figures provide a grim reminder that, even with all of the safety improvements that have been achieved in recent decades, our law enforcement officers still face grave, life-threatening dangers each and every day."
He added, "As governments across the country face tighter and tighter budgets, we must ensure that critical officer safety measures such as training, equipment and personnel are not sacrificed. If our dedicated law enforcement officers are to continue to drive down crime, as they have done so successfully in recent years, then they must have the necessary resources to protect our communities and themselves."
All major categories of officer deaths rose sharply during the first half of 2010, according to the NLEOMF’s preliminary data.
- Firearm-related deaths increased 41 percent, from 22 during the first six months of 2009 to 31 in the first half of 2010.
- Traffic-related fatalities were up 35 percent, from 31 at mid-year 2009 to 42 as of June 30 of this year. The 2010 total included 29 officers who died in automobile crashes, four killed in motorcycle crashes, and nine who were struck and killed while outside their vehicles — all increases from 2009.
- Deaths from all other causes combined jumped 75 percent, from eight to 14, as of June 30.
"Law Enforcement Officer Deaths, Mid-Year 2010 Report" is available at www.LawMemorial.org/ResearchBulletin.