Firearms-related fatalities decrease 4% over the same period last year; COVID-19 deaths poised to surpass all other causes of officer fatalities
The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum recently issued its 2020 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report with preliminary data through June 30, revealing that 65 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 20200 – a 14% decrease over the same period last year (76).
Of these 65 officers, 27 were killed in firearms-related incidents, 26 were killed in traffic-related incidents, and 12 died due to other causes such as job-related illnesses.
There have been five confirmed COVID-19-related officer line-of-duty deaths thus far this year; however, another 53 cases are pending. Once these 53 COVID-19 cases are confirmed, the total number of law enforcement deaths for the first six months of this year could skyrocket to 118 or a 55% increase over last year’s mid-year report. This would make COVID-19-related fatalities the single highest cause of law enforcement deaths occurring in the first six months of 2020.
Firearms-related fatalities were the leading cause of law enforcement deaths for the first half of this year, with 27 fatalities in 2020, compared to 28 in the same period in 2019 — a decrease of 4%. Notably, nine of these deaths occurred while officers were investigating a suspicious person or activity. Five officer deaths occurred while the officer was attempting to make an arrest; three were killed while responding to domestic disturbance calls and three were killed in tactical situations. Additional circumstances are included in the 2020 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report.
Traffic-related fatalities (26) increased 8% in the first half of 2020 compared to last year (24). Nine of these fatalities were the result of crashes involving another vehicle or fixed object; seven were the result of single-vehicle crashes and nine officers were struck while outside of their vehicles. One officer was killed in a motorcycle crash.
Twelve officers died of other causes during the first half of 2020, the same number of officers who died of other causes in 2019. Five of the 2020 officer deaths have been attributed to COVID-19-related illness. One officer died in a helicopter crash. Other causes of death include heart attack, stroke and 9/11-related illnesses.
Texas leads the country in officer fatalities, losing 11 officers in the line of duty for the first half of 2020; California lost five officers, three officers died in each of the states of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Six states lost two officers and 14 states lost one officer during the first six months of the year. One federal officer and one tribal officer were also killed in the line of duty as of June 30.
The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum is dedicated to remembering the fallen, making it safer for those who serve, and educating the public about the history of American law enforcement. Through the generous support of Verizon, the Destination Zero program provides officer safety and wellness program resources to carry out their mission.
“The numbers so far this year show a 14% decrease in overall officer line-of-duty deaths, and while we're pleased to see this trend, the data shows there's still a great deal of work to be done to keep these officers' names off the memorial walls," said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto. “We also cannot ignore the severe impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the brave men and women who serve, as well as the impact on their families.”
A copy of the full report, “2020 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report,” is available at LawMemorial.org/FatalitiesReport