2007 ends deadliest year for U.S. law enforcement since 1989
As of December 26, 186 officers were killed nationwide. Among the causes of death:
–69 officers were shot and killed, up 33 percent from 2006;
–81 officers died in traffic-related incidents, the tenth year in a row in which traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of officer deaths nationwide;
–18 officers died from physical causes, primarily heart attacks;
–three fell to their deaths;
–three officers died in aircraft accidents;
–two were killed by falling objects;
–and one officer was killed in a boating accident.
“In 2007, our nation’s law enforcement officers were confronted with more brazen, heavily armed and cold-blooded criminals than they have faced in many years,” said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the NLEOMF, a nonprofit organization that researches officer fatalities and maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington. “As this tragic year comes to a close, every American owes our law enforcement officers an incredible measure of gratitude,” he added.
Among other findings in the report:
–Forty-one states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced officer fatalities during 2007. Texas, with 22, had the most officer deaths, followed by Florida (16), New York (12), California (11) and Louisiana (9).
–Seventeen federal law enforcement officers died last year, including five special agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations who were killed in Iraq.
–The officers killed in 2007 ranged in age from 19 to 76; the average age was 39. The officers had an average of 11.4 years in law enforcement. Seven of the officers killed last year were women.
–Handguns were used in the vast majority of fatal officer shootings (51). Shotguns were used in eight officer killings and rifles or assault weapons in nine others.
–Approximately 40 percent of the officers who died in 2007 were killed in felonious attacks; the other 60 percent died from accidental causes. Until the late 1990s, more officers died in felonious attacks than accidents.
–Alcohol was a contributing factor in 21 of last year’s officer fatalities, up from 17 in 2006; illegal drugs played a role in 21 deaths, up from 11 in 2006.
After peaking at 277 in 1974, officer fatalities generally have declined over the last 30 years, with the exception of the increase in 2001 due to the December 11 terrorist attacks. The annual average number of officers killed was 228 in the 1970s, 190 in the 1980s, 160 in the 1990s and 167 from 2000 to 2006.
The statistics released by the NLEOMF and COPS are preliminary data and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2008.