The number of law enforcement professionals nationwide who died in the line of duty in 2021 increased 55% over the previous year, according to preliminary data provided by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).
NLEOMF announced in its official 2021 Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report that as of December 31, 2021, 458 federal, state, county, municipal, military, campus, tribal, and territorial officers died in the line of duty during the past year, representing a 55% increase over the 295 officers who died in the line of duty in 2020. In the category of “Other” causes, which includes 301 COVID-19-related deaths, the number of fatalities is 338, an increase of 63% over 2020’s line-of-duty fatalities in this category.
Firearms-related fatalities claimed the lives of 62 officers in 2021, a 38% increase compared to the 45 officers killed in firearms-related incidents in 2020.
Of the 62 firearms fatalities:
• 19 were ambushed and killed
• 8 were investigating suspicious activities or persons
• 7 were attempting an arrest
• 7 were killed responding to domestic disturbance calls, which led to a tactical situation and an ambush
• 7 were disturbance calls, which led to a tactical situation
• 3 were killed during traffic enforcement, which led to an ambush
• 3 were fatally shot responding to burglary or robbery in-progress calls
• 3 involved drug-related investigations
• 2 were killed during tactical encounters
• 2 were inadvertently and accidentally shot and killed
• 1 was killed during an encounter with a suicidal subject.
Traffic-related fatalities increased 38% with 58 deaths in 2021 compared to 42 deaths in 2020.
Of the 58 traffic-related deaths:
• 19 were automobile crashes involving a collision with another vehicle or fixed object
• 9 were single-vehicle crashes
• 27 were struck-by fatalities
• 3 officers have been killed in motorcycle crashes
“This time of year always reminds us of the sacrifice of law enforcement and the importance of our mission to honor the fallen, tell the story of American law enforcement, and make it safer for those who serve. The year 2021 will go down as the year of the most line-of-duty fatalities since 1930 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increases in traffic fatalities and firearms ambushes,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto.
There are currently 22,611 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to the first known death in 1786.
The statistics released are based on preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2022.