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Police Deaths Reach Historic Low In 2012

December 27, 2012  | 

Chart courtesy of NLEOMF.
Chart courtesy of NLEOMF.

The number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty fell sharply in 2012, marking a year that ranks among the lowest for officer fatalities since 1960, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The year saw a 23% drop in officer fatalities to 127 line-of-duty deaths, reports the Memorial Fund. In 2011, 165 officers died on duty. This year was only the second since 1960 with less than 130 officer deaths.

Traffic-related fatalities were once again the leading cause of officer fatalities, with 50 officers killed in 2012. Thirty were killed in automobile crashes; 14 were struck and killed; and six officers were killed in motorcycle crashes. Overall, traffic-related fatalities decreased by 17% from 60 officers killed during 2011.

Firearms-related fatalities follow closely with 49 officers killed, dropping 32% compared to 72 deaths in 2011. Ambush attacks were the leading circumstance of fatal shootings, with 15 officer fatalities, followed by nine officers killed feloniously during traffic stops or pursuits. Drug-related matters and robberies in progress each had five fatalities.

"The loss of any officer is unacceptable and devastating to their family, their community and our nation," said Craig W. Floyd, the Memorial Fund's chairman and CEO. "However, I am encouraged to see a significant decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed in 2012 after two years of alarming increases in the number of fatalities."

View the full NLEOMF fund, "Law Enforcement Officer Deaths: Preliminary 2012 Report."

Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Ryder @ 12/27/2012 1:11 PM

Lets continue this trend for 2013 and remember those we've lost.

Tom Ret @ 12/27/2012 2:04 PM

Very few of us wore vests in the early 70s and swat was pretty much
non existent with the revolver and shotgun as standard issue. If anyone had a rifle it was probably the bad guy. The public probably has more guns in their hands today including the dreaded "assault rifle" but so do the police.

jim dunn @ 12/27/2012 2:39 PM

Assaults on officers are not down. Emergency trauma care is way better now than in the past. Don't let statistics fool ya. Thanks LT. COL. Grossman

Rick @ 12/27/2012 3:40 PM

Lots of constant reminders to keep safety on the mind like the "Not Today" reminders and "Below 100" campains seem to be helping. The increase in protective vest wear and many keeping small trauma kits readily available also helping I'm sure.

Anthony Manzella @ 12/27/2012 3:55 PM

I agree with Jim Dunn. The reduction in the number of fatalities among LEOs is similar to the reduction in deaths among our military service members. And, the reason is the same: improved and more expedient trauma care. The more important number is the number of LEOs shot at and unharmed and the number of LEOs shot at and wounded but alive. That's why we gang homicide prosecutors in Los Angeles don't pay much attention to the homicide rate, but more attention to the firearm assault rate. The latter changes from year to year, but not that much.

Random @ 12/28/2012 12:38 AM

Define alive. Up until recently military, police, security, and industrial victims that lost 4 limbs suffered greatly, but died quickly. Now the physical pain and bodily deterioration can be stopped quickly and victims can live 70 yrs in that condition. Yeah progress.

Ima Leprechaun @ 12/28/2012 3:34 AM

The officers on here that hate Obama won't be happy about factual information like this. Please use the fuzzy math they are used to and continue to lie.

Ima Leprechaun @ 12/28/2012 3:39 AM

Storming Norman died today does anyone know why he is important to history besides being in the military. Every cop should know this one.

S.S @ 12/28/2012 6:33 AM

Jim hit it right on the head. It definately doesn't feel like officer deaths are down. Even the death of one officer is too much. Stats like this one can be very deceiving and how its presented. Stay safe out there.

ron martinelli @ 12/28/2012 3:31 PM

Dr. Grossman and the other officers who have commented on the officer assaults and KIA stats are absolutely correct. The government and media need to focus on "violent assaults" on officers and not officers KIA. EMS responses and trauma care have vastly improved over the years. BTW, 2012 is not finished yet and we have already had several officers KIA since Thanksgiving, including one on your front cover. Let's not be so quick to congratulate ourselves. Field officers and their families know better!

Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., BCFT, CFA
Forensic Criminologist/Police Practices Expert
Temecula, CA

Javier Cota @ 1/2/2013 9:23 AM

News media focuses on the sensational, which focus on Officers killed.
Attempted assaults, minor, serious, and in-between sometimes get coverage, but none are as sensational as Officer KIA. So, it behooves the Police Department to make sure they bring that to the media's attention every time they get asked about Officers KIA. If everyone does it, soon the media will ask about KIA and Officer assaults, which is what the front line troops should keep in mind in addition to remembering our fallen comrades. Being smart will get the media to help remind even our own that Officers assaulted/attempted is what you also need to watch.

Javier Cota, Retired (by the grace of God) LEO

Jack Betz @ 1/4/2013 6:33 PM

What are the numbers of our old friend, the family disturbance.

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