More police officers were killed in the line of duty by firearms during 2018 than during any other year in the past two decades. A total of 144 officers died this year, a 12 percent increase over the previous one, with 52 of those individuals killed in shootings, according to the Boston Herald.
The non-profit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund tracks the number of officers killed each year. According to this year’s report, 134 men and 10 women were killed in the line of duty, with the average age of 41. Last year, their annual report revealed that 129 people were killed in federal, state, local, territorial and tribal departments. That was a steep drop from 2016’s 159 fatalities.
Craig W. Floyd, CEO of the memorial fund, noted that the increase was a discouraging shift after last year’s improvement.
“The rising number of law enforcement officer deaths in 2018 is disappointing news after a decline in 2017,” he said. “Sadly, this reminds us that public safety is a dangerous job and can come at a very steep price.”
Even more discouraging is the number of officers killed by firearms, which reached its highest number in two decades. During 2017, the leading cause of death was traffic fatalities, but in 2018, 52 people were killed by guns. Of those, two-thirds were killed by a handgun and four were killed by their own weapons after being disarmed.
Yarmouth, Massachusettes police Chief Frank Frederickson said that they have felt the impact of these deaths first-hand. The state lost two officers last year to gun violence.
WATCH: Hundreds of officers line up along the street for the wake procession of Sgt. Michael Chesna in Weymouth, MA. Chesna was killed on Sunday while responding to a call about a car crash. For more from @NBC10Boston: https://t.co/YWqaNKSxjw pic.twitter.com/bIG5PtLfzv
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) July 20, 2018
“Statistics don’t lie. We have obviously become very aware of the increase in violence and more so when it strikes you as one of your own, you see the spiderweb of damage that continues,” Frederickson said. “It’s one thing to read about it when it happens far away but when you see it firsthand, it’s pretty amazing how much this impacts so many people.”
Vehicle-related injuries were the second cause of officer deaths in 2018, with 50 people injured in motorcycle and car accidents. Thirty-two of those involved another vehicle, while 14 officers were struck while standing outside of their own vehicle. The rest of the fatalities were made up of heart attacks, strokes, drownings, cancer, and other illnesses related to officers who served in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Texas, Florida, New York, and California tied for the most fatalities, with 11 officers killed in each state.