Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2015
The number of police officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty jumped 89 percent last year compared with 2013, when a smaller-than-usual number died, the FBI announced.
The agency, which released its preliminary statistics on officer deaths on Monday, found that 51 law enforcement officers were killed during the commission of a felony and in the line of duty. That is significantly more than the 27 officers who were feloniously killed in 2013, but still less than the annual average of 64 who died between 1980 and 2014, the agency said.
The latest statistics come during a year when police training and actions have drawn national attention and after several deaths of officers, highlighting the dangerous nature of police work.
In recent days, residents of New York mourned the death of Officer Brian Moore, slain in Queens. It was the third such officer’s death in the past six months in the city. Over the weekend, two officers were killed in Hattiesburg, Miss., after a routine traffic stop.
Despite the inherent dangers of being a police officer, the occupation seems to be getting safer over the years, according to statistics compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a police-friendly group. The number of annual deaths of all types were in the 200s during the 1970s and 1980s, but fell in this century to below 200 a year.
According to the FBI’s preliminary statistics, 46 of the 51 deaths in 2014 involved guns: 32 were handguns; 11 involved rifles; and three were shotguns. Four officers were killed when vehicles were used as weapons, and one officer died after being beaten.
Police answering calls of disturbances faced the highest risk with 11 officers dying. Only one of the disturbance calls involved a domestic dispute. Ten officers were conducting traffic pursuits or stops.
Eight officers were killed in ambushes, six cases were premeditated and two were during unprovoked attacks, according to the statistics. Six officers were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances.
In addition to those officers killed in felonious attacks, 44 more officers died accidentally in the line of duty in 2014. This total represents five officers fewer than the 49 officers who were accidentally killed in 2013.