This zip gun was attached to the fence of a gang task force in Hemet, Calif. Photo: ATF.

This zip gun was attached to the fence of a gang task force in Hemet, Calif. Photo: ATF.

While on duty in 2010, 56 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed, 72 died in accidents, and more than 53,000 were assaulted, according to data in the "Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted" report.

The number of officers feloniously killed rose 16 percent and accidental deaths rose 53 percent from 2009, according to the 2010 edition of the report, which was released Monday. Assaults fell about 7 percent.

The 56 felonious deaths occurred in 22 states and Puerto Rico. The number of officers feloniously killed in 2010 increased by eight compared with the 48 officers killed in 2009. The figure represents a decrease of 14 deaths compared with data from 2001, when 70 officers were killed.

The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 38 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 10 years. Fifty-four of the victim officers were male, and two were female. Forty-eight of the officers were white, seven were black, and one was Asian/Pacific Islander.

Of the 56 officers feloniously killed, 15 were ambushed; 14 were attempting arrests; eight were investigating suspicious circumstances; seven were performing traffic stops or pursuits; six were answering disturbance calls; three were involved in tactical situations such as a high-risk entry; two were conducting investigative activity such as surveillance, searches, or interviews; and one officer was killed while transporting a prisoner.

Offenders used firearms to kill 55 of the 56 victim officers. Of these 55 officers, 38 were slain with handguns, 15 with rifles, and two with shotguns. One officer was struck by a vehicle.

Of the country's regions, 22 of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 18 in the West, 10 in the Midwest, and three in the Northeast. Three of the deaths took place in Puerto Rico.

Law enforcement agencies identified 69 alleged assailants in connection with the 56 felonious line-of-duty deaths. Fifty-seven of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and 19 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.

Of the 72 accidental deaths, 45 officers were killed in automobile accidents.

In 2010, 53,469 law enforcement officers were assaulted while performing their duties. Of the officers assaulted, 26.1 percent suffered injuries. The largest percentage of victim officers (33 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls such as family quarrels or bar fights. Assailants used personal weapons such as hands, fists, or feet in 81.8 percent of the incidents, firearms in 3.4 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.7 percent of the incidents. Other types of weapons were used in 13.1 percent of assaults.

Editor's note: For additional reading, please view the FBI's 1997 report "In the Line of Fire: Violence Against Law Enforcement."

By Paul Clinton


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