The number of law enforcement professionals nationwide who died in the line of duty in 2018 increased 12% over the previous year according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that has long tracked officer fatalities.
The Memorial Fund announced in its 2018 Preliminary End-of-Year Law Enforcement Fatalities Report that 144 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officers died in the line of duty over the past year, representing a 12% increase over the 129 officers who died in the line of duty in 2017.
Firearms-related fatalities claimed the lives of 52 officers in 2018, a 13% increase compared to the 46 officers killed in firearms-related incidents in 2017. Of the 52 officer deaths, 14 occurred while officers were attempting to place an individual under arrest. Eight officers were killed while conducting an investigative activity. Six officers were killed responding to domestic disturbance and public disturbance calls, each totaling 12. Five officers were ambushed in 2018, a 50% decrease over 2017. Four officers were shot and killed conducting traffic stops. Two officers were killed while serving warrants and two officers were killed while handling or transporting prisoners. Two officers were inadvertently shot by other law enforcement personnel. One officer was killed while responding to a burglary; one was killed during a tactical situation and one was killed while responding to a call for an armed suicidal suspect.
Handguns were the leading type of firearm used against law enforcement in 2018. Of the 52 officer fatalities, 31 officers were shot and killed with a handgun; four were disarmed and shot with their own duty weapons.
Traffic-related fatalities increased 9% from 2017 with 50 officer deaths. Of those, 32 officers were killed in crashes. Fourteen officers were struck while outside of their vehicle, a 56% increase over the nine officers struck and killed in 2017. Four officers were killed in motorcycle crashes.