Law Enforcement Fatalities Fall Sharply


After jumping 20 percent in the first six months of 2009, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty fell sharply during the third quarter of this year and is on pace to reach a five-decade low this year, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Nationwide, 26 officers died in the line of duty during the months of July, August and September, 2009. By comparison, 43 officers were killed during the third quarter of 2008.

As of October 2, officer fatalities are down 7 percent from the same time last year: 92 in 2009, compared with 99 in 2008. In all of 2008, 133 officers died in the line of duty, the lowest annual total since 1960, when there were 127 officer deaths. If current trends continue, this year’s total would break that five-decade low.

The NLEOMF’s latest preliminary statistics were released as police leaders from across the country gather in Denver for the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“In the 25 years since the Memorial Fund was established back in 1984, law enforcement executives, trainers and line officers, as well as industry partners and government policymakers, have worked diligently to improve the safety of our nation’s law enforcement officers,” said NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “While one officer death is one too many, these cooperative efforts have helped to move the fatality numbers in the right direction, and we are encouraged that this trend has continued this year,” he added.

The NLEOMF’s latest preliminary data indicate the following:

  • Traffic-related incidents, which remain the leading cause of law enforcement deaths in the United States, have declined more than 12 percent this year.
  • The number of officers killed by gunfire is up slightly this year, to 36 from 34 at the same time of 2008. This year’s increase has been driven, in part, by three multiple-officer shooting fatalities this spring in Oakland, Pittsburgh and Okaloosa County, FL.
  • No female officers have been killed so far this year. By contrast, nearly 10 percent of the officers killed in 2008 were women.

The statistics released by the NLEOMF are preliminary and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for 2009. For more information on law enforcement officer fatality trends, visit the Facts & Figures page on the NLEOMF website.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo