Law enforcement

2021 on pace to be one of the deadliest years on record for law enforcement officers: report

police officer

Photo: Avid Creative, Inc./iStockphoto

Washington — At least 155 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty during the first half of the year – a 9.9% increase from the same period in 2020, according to a recently released report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

NLEOMF reviewed preliminary organizational data and found that COVID-19 was the leading cause of officer deaths from Jan. 1 to June 30, totaling 71. Although the figure represents a 6.6% decrease from the first half of 2020, the report notes that “it is anticipated that a significant number” of COVID-19-related fatalities “have yet to be reported by local agencies.”

Thirty-eight officers were killed in traffic-related incidents – a 58.3% increase from the same period last year. Among that total, the 19 struck-by fatalities equal the total number of deaths in that category for all of 2020.

Additionally, 28 fatalities related to firearms were reported, including four resulting from ambushes.

The report notes that the current pace of officer deaths puts 2021 on target to surpass the 295 fatalities recorded last year. To date, the 2020 figure is the second highest annual total NLEOMF has reported, behind the 312 fatalities recorded in 1930.


“These numbers are a tragic reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers are exposed to each and every day,” NLEOMF CEO Marcia Ferranto said in a press release. “The last two years have been incredibly difficult and dangerous for law enforcement. We will continue our work to honor the fallen and ensure that their sacrifice is never forgotten.”

An addendum to the report provides officer safety and wellness tips, including guidance related to traffic stops and possible struck-by incidents, from multiple resources. The tips include:

  • Stop the vehicle in a safe location and tilt the vehicle out toward the road
  • Approach on the passenger side when possible
  • Wear a high-visibility vest

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