Law enforcement deaths decline, but firearm line-of-duty deaths remain high

The report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund details line-of-duty-deaths in 2022.
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:22 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Line-of-duty deaths were dramatically down in 2022. But, firearms deaths remain high, according to a just-released report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The report shows the number of law enforcement professionals who died in the line of duty in 2022 decreased by 61% over the previous year. NLEOMF notes, that decrease is driven by substantial reductions in Covid-19 related deaths.

Read the full report here

“When you’re talking about a fatality report, you’re never going to talk about good news because if there’s one officer on that report, it’s not good news. I would say that the trend is that we’re trending down, 61% right now, but most of that is due to COVID. If you take out COVID, we’re trending down 14% year over year,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO Of NLEOMF.

The organization notes what it calls a “troubling trend of higher-than-average firearms fatalities” in both 2021 and 2022. It said, “firearms-related fatalities have claimed the lives of 64 officers in 2022, which mirrors the number of firearms-related fatalities in 2021. Both years represent a 21% increase in firearms-related deaths when compared to the average of 53 firearms-related fatalities from 2010-2020.”

“I think the significance around that is as we dove into the data, it’s a 21% increase decade over decade. So what is happening now compared to what was happening ten years ago? And I think it’s important for us, for all law enforcement agencies to take a look at that data, see where our country is, see if any of this is having an impact on the fatalities due to firearms with our law enforcement. And, put together the programs necessary to educate, to help keep our law enforcement officers safe,” said Ferranto.

Meanwhile, traffic-related fatalities decreased 3% with 56 deaths in 2022 compared to 58 deaths in 2021. The organization adds, “while overall traffic-related fatalities are down, the 40 fatal crashes in 2022 (automobile/motorcycle) represent an increase of 29% compared to fatal crashes in 2021. Struck-by fatalities, defined as an officer struck outside of their patrol vehicle, dropped 41% from 27 in 2021 to 16 in 2022.”

The state of Texas had the largest number of law enforcement fatalities in 2022 with 33 deaths. New York was the second highest, followed by California, Georgia, and Tennessee.

“The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a leading authority on official line of duty deaths. So when we come out with this fatality report, you can be assured that every case we’ve examined and put through a very stringent review process,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Currently in Washington D.C., 23,229 names are on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and 226 more names will be added this spring. In May, the nation will mark National Police Week. This year will also mark the 35th year a candlelight vigil will be held to honor the fallen in Washington D.C. on May 13th. The newly engraved names of fallen officers will be read aloud during that ceremony.

“It’s unthinkable what these survivors families and friends and colleagues go through, because some of these fatalities are avoidable and they don’t need to happen. To watch during police week, the families come through here and stand at the wall, you can’t even get close to the wall. It is four and five deep, people standing on these hallowed grounds, honoring the men and women who gave their lives,” said Ferranto.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has launched an app called “The Badge” where the public can learn more about the memorial and fallen officers.