Preliminary statistics released this week by the FBI show that 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2014. This is an increase of almost 89 percent when compared to the 27 officers killed in 2013. (Note: From 1980–2014, an average of 64 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed per year.
The 2013 total, 27, was the lowest during this 35-year period.) By region, 17 officers died as a result of criminal acts that occurred in the South, 14 officers in the West, eight officers in the Midwest, eight in the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico.
By circumstance, 11 officers died from injuries inflicted as a result of answering disturbance calls (one of which was a domestic disturbance). Ten officers were conducting traffic pursuits or stops, eight were killed as a result of ambushes (six due to entrapment/premeditated situations and two during unprovoked attacks), and six officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances. Five officers sustained fatal injuries while they were performing investigative activities, four while they were engaged in tactical situations, three officers were handling persons with mental illness, and one officer was slain during a drug-related matter. Three officers were killed while attempting other arrests.
Offenders used firearms in 46 of the 51 felonious deaths. These included 32 incidents with handguns, 11 incidents with rifles, and three incidents with shotguns. Four victim officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons, and one was killed with the offender’s personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.).
Thirty-five of the slain officers were confirmed to be wearing body armor at the times of the incidents. Five of the 51 officers killed fired their own weapons, and six officers attempted to fire their service weapons. Seven victim officers had their weapons stolen; one officer was killed with his own weapon.
The 51 victim officers died from injuries sustained in 48 separate incidents. All 48 of those incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
An additional 44 officers were accidentally killed in the line of duty in 2014. This total represents five officers fewer than the 49 officers who were accidentally killed in 2013. By region, 19 officers died due to accidents in the South, 13 in the West, seven in the Northeast, four in the Midwest, and one in Puerto Rico.
Twenty-eight of the officers died as a result of automobile accidents, six were in motorcycle accidents, and five were struck by vehicles. Two of the officers were killed from accidental shootings, one from drowning, one from blunt force trauma, and one died as a result of smoke inhalation.
Of the 28 officers who died due to automobile accidents, 15 officers were wearing seatbelts. 10 officers were not wearing seatbelts (six of whom were ejected from the vehicles), and seatbelt use was not reported for three of the officers who were killed due to automobile accidents.
Final statistics and complete details will be available in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s publication Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2014, which will be published on the FBI’s website in the fall.