While on duty during 2009, 48 law enforcement officers were killed by offenders, 47 died in accidents and more than 57,000 officers were assaulted, according to FBI statistics released today.
The data is contained in the 2009 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, which includes data about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks.
The felonious deaths occurred in 18 states and Puerto Rico. The number of officers feloniously killed in 2009 increased by seven when compared with the 2008 figure (41 officers). The five- and 10-year comparisons showed decreases in the number of felonious deaths, down seven from 2005 (55 officers) and a decrease of three from 2000 (51 officers).
The average age of the 48 officers who were feloniously killed was 38. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years at the time of the fatal incidents. Only one of the victim officers was female. Forty-two of the officers were white, three were black, two were American Indian/Alaskan Native, and one was Asian/Pacific Islander.
Of the 48 officers feloniously killed, 15 were ambushed; eight of the slain officers were involved in arrest situations; eight were performing traffic stops; six were answering disturbance calls; five were involved in tactical situations (such as a high-risk entry); four were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances; and two were handling, transporting, or maintaining custody of prisoners.
Offenders used firearms to kill 45 of the 48 victim officers. Of these 45 officers, 28 were slain with handguns, 15 with rifles, and two with shotguns. Three officers were killed with vehicles that were used as weapons.
Twenty-one of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 13 in the West, seven in the Northeast, and five in the Midwest. Two of the deaths took place in Puerto Rico.
Law enforcement agencies identified 41 alleged assailants in connection with the 48 felonious line-of-duty deaths. Thirty-three of the assailants had prior criminal records, and 13 of the assailants were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.
Of the 47 law enforcement officers killed in accidents while performing their duties in 2009, the majority of officers accidentally killed (34 officers) were the result of automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths was down 21 from the 2008 total (68 officers) and 20 less than the 2005 total (67 officers); 36 fewer officers were accidentally killed in 2009 than in 2000, when 83 officers died in accidents.
In 2009, 11,451 law enforcement agencies reported that 57,268 officers were assaulted while performing their duties. Of the officers assaulted, 26.2 percent were injured. The largest percentage of victim officers (32.6) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls (such as family quarrels, bar fights, etc.).
Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 81.4 percent of the incidents, firearms in 3.5 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.5 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 13.6 percent of assaults.