The FBI's annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report says 118 American law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2016, a 35% increase over 2015 when the FBI reported 86 line-of-duty deaths. Even more alarming, felonious deaths of officers spiked 61% from the 41 slain in 2015 to 66 in 2016.
The 66 felonious deaths occurred in 29 states and in Puerto Rico. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2016 increased by 25 when compared with the 41 officers who were feloniously killed in 2015. The five- and 10-year comparisons show an increase of 17 felonious deaths compared with the 2012 figure (49 officers) and an increase of eight deaths compared with 2007 data (58 officers).
The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 40 years old. The fallen officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 13 years at the times of the fatal incidents. Of the 66 officers, 64 were male, and two were female. Sixty-one of the officers were white, four were black/African-American, and one was Asian/Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.
At the time the 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed:
- 17 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation);
- 13 were answering disturbance calls (seven were domestic disturbance calls);
- nine were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances;
- six were engaged in tactical situations;
- five were performing investigative activities (such as surveillances, searches, or interviews);
- four were conducting traffic pursuits/stops;
- three were investigating drug-related matters;
- three were killed in unprovoked attacks;
- one was answering a burglary in progress call or pursuing a burglary suspect(s);
- one was answering a robbery in progress call or pursuing a robbery suspect(s); and
- four were attempting other arrests.
Offenders used firearms to kill 62 of the 66 feloniously killed officers. Of these 62 officers, 37 were slain with handguns, 24 with rifles, and one with a shotgun. Four officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons.
Thirty of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 17 in the West, 13 in the Midwest, four in the Northeast, and two in Puerto Rico.
Law enforcement agencies identified 59 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths. Forty-five of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and 14 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the times of the felonious incidents.
Fifty-two law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2016. The majority (26 officers) were killed in automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths increased by seven when compared with the 45 officers who were accidentally killed in 2015.
The average age of the officers who were accidentally killed was 38 years old; the average number of years the fallen officers had served in law enforcement was 11. Of the 52 officers accidentally killed, 50 were male, and two were female. Forty of the officers were white, nine were black/African-American, and race was not reported for three of the officers.
Of the 52 officers accidentally killed:
- 26 died as a result of automobile accidents;
- 12 were struck by vehicles;
- seven officers died due to motorcycle accidents;
- three were accidentally shot;
- two officers drowned;
- one died in an aircraft accident; and
- one officer died in another type of duty-related accident.
Use of seatbelts was reported for 21 of the 26 officers killed in automobile accidents. Of these 21 officers, 10 were wearing seatbelts, and 11 were not wearing seatbelts at the times of the accidents. Of the 11 officers who were fatally injured in automobile accidents and were not wearing seatbelts, two were seated in parked motor vehicles at the times of the accidents.
Twenty-four of the accidental deaths occurred in the South, 12 in the Midwest, nine in the West, five in the Northeast, and two in Puerto Rico.
In 2016, of the 57,180 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 28.9% were injured. The largest percentage of assaulted officers (32.2%) were attacked while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 78% of the incidents, firearms in 4.2% of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.9% of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 16.0% of assaults.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2016 is available exclusively on the FBI’s website at https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2016.