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FBI Releases 2021 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty

The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 39 years old. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years.

According to statistics reported to the FBI, 129 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2021. Of these, 73 officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 56 officers died in accidents. Comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks were released today in the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) portion on the FBI’s Law Enforcement Data Explorer (a subset of the Crime Data Explorer).

Felonious Deaths

Seventy-three officers were feloniously killed in 2021, an increase of 27 when compared to the 46 officers who were killed as a result of criminal acts in 2020. The 73 felonious deaths occurred in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The 5- and 10-year comparisons show an increase of 27 felonious deaths when compared with the 2017 figure (46 officers) and an increase of 24 deaths when compared with 2012 data (49 officers).

Officer Profiles. The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 39 years old. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years at the times of the fatal incidents. Of the 73 officers:

  • 68 were male.
  • 5 were female.
  • 60 were White.
  • 9 were Black/African American.
  • The race of 4 officers who died was not reported.

Circumstances Encountered by Victim Officer Upon Arrival at Scene of Incident. Of the 73 officers feloniously killed:

  • 24 officers were killed in unprovoked attacks.
  • 9 officers died as a result of investigative/enforcement activities.
    • 4 were involved in surveillance activities.
    • 2 were conducting traffic violation stops.
    • 1 was responding to an active shooter.
    • 1 was involved in an undercover situation.
  • 1 was investigating a wanted person.
  • 8 officers were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation).
  • 8 officers were involved in pursuits.
    • 7 were vehicular (anything other than on foot).
    • 1 was on foot.
  • 7 officers responded to disorders/disturbances.
    • 3 were responding to a disturbance (disorderly subject, fight, etc.).
    • 2 were responding to domestic disturbances (family quarrel, no assault).
    • 2 were responding to domestic violence situations.
  • 6 officers were involved in tactical situations.
    • 4 were involved in barricaded/hostage situations.
    • 2 were serving/attempting to serve arrest warrants.
  • 4 officers were involved in arrest situations.
    • 2 were involved with verbal advisements only.
    • 1 was maintaining custody of a prisoner (in vehicle, precinct, etc.).
    • 1 arrest situation type was not reported.
  • 2 officers responded to crimes in progress.
    • 1 was an active shooter.
    • 1 was an assault.
  • 1 officer was assisting other law enforcement officers.
  • 1 was serving/attempting to serve a court order (eviction notice, subpoena, etc.).
  • 1 officer was out of service (court, dining, etc.).
  • 1 officer was responding to a report of crime.
  • 1 officer was providing/deploying equipment (flares, traffic cones, etc.).

Weapons. Offenders used firearms to kill 61 of the 73 victim officers. Six officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons. Four officers were killed by the offender’s use of personal weapons (hand, fists, feet, etc.). Of the 61 officers killed by firearms:

  • 15 were slain with handguns.
  • 11 with rifles.
  • 2 with shotguns.
  • 33 with firearms in which the types of firearms were unknown or not reported.

Regions. Felonious deaths were reported in three of the four U.S. regions.

  • 44 officers were feloniously killed in the South.
  • 13 in the West.
  • 12 in the Midwest.
  • None were feloniously killed in the Northeast.
  • 4 officers were also killed in Puerto Rico.

Suspects. Law enforcement agencies identified 66 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths.

  • 20 of the assailants had prior criminal arrests.
  • 9 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the times of the felonious incidents.

Accidental Deaths

Fifty-six law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2021, an increase of 10 when compared with the 46 officers accidentally killed in 2020. The majority (32 officers) were killed in motor vehicle crashes.

Officer Profile. The average age of officers who were accidentally killed was 40 years old; the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 10. Of the 56 officers accidentally killed:

  • 52 were male.
  • 4 were female.
  • 46 were White.
  • 7 were Black/African American.
  • 1 was Asian.
  • The race for 2 victim officers was not reported.

Circumstances. The 56 officers accidentally killed died in a variety of scenarios:

  • 32 died as a result of motor vehicle crashes.
    • 30 while operating motor vehicles.
    • 2 while operating an ATV or a motorcycle.
  • 20 were pedestrian officers struck by vehicles.
  • 4 officers drowned.

Use of seatbelts. Of the 30 officers killed in motor vehicle crashes (not including ATVs and motorcycles), 7 were wearing seatbelts, and 5 were not. Data about seatbelt usage was not reported for 18 of the officers.

Regions. Accidental deaths were reported in all four U.S. regions and in Puerto Rico.

  • 26 of the accidental deaths occurred in the South.
  • 13 in the West.
  • 9 in the Midwest.
  • 7 in the Northeast.
  • 1 in Puerto Rico.

Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2021 Release Schedule

To provide a more timely release of data to the public, today’s release provides three categories of data. These categories include data and statistics concerning officers feloniously and accidentally killed and statistics about federal officers killed and/or assaulted. The remaining portions of the information, which present data reported to the FBI concerning law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty in 2021, will be released in the fall.

LEOKA 2021 data is available exclusively on the FBI’s Law Enforcement Data Explorer (a subset of the Crime Data Explorer).

Read more at FBI

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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