Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Fall 61% in 2022

Report reveals that Firearms Line-of-Duty Deaths still remain high, mirroring numbers from 2021.

Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Fall 61% in 2022

The number of law enforcement professionals nationwide who died in the line of duty in 2022 decreased a dramatic 61% over the previous year, according to preliminary data provided by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The decrease is driven almost entirely by substantial reductions in Covid-19 related deaths. As reported in their official 2022 End-of-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report, the NLEOMF data shows that 226 federal, state, county, municipal, military, tribal, and campus officers have died in the line of duty in 2022, representing a 61% decrease compared to the 586 officers who died in the line of duty in 2021.

The leading authority on officer fatalities, NLEOMF was established in 1984 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the fallen, telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve. In addition to maintaining and publishing comprehensive details on the circumstances surrounding official line-of-duty deaths, the Fund honors the names of all the 23,229 officers who have died in the line of duty to date throughout U.S. history.

“While overall line-of-duty deaths are trending down,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Marcia Ferranto, “the continuing trend of greater-than-average firearms-related deaths continues to be a serious concern. Using and reporting on this data allows us to highlight the continuing cost of maintaining our democracy, regrettably measured in the lives of the many law enforcement professionals who sacrifice everything fulfilling their promise to serve and protect.”

Most significant in the 2022 report is the dramatic reduction in Covid-19-related deaths. Seventy officers have succumbed to the disease as a result of their duties in 2022, compared to 405 officers in 2021, an 83% decrease. Unfortunately, the troubling trend of higher-than-average firearms fatalities, which began in 2021, continues in 2022.

Firearms-Related Fatalities

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.

Of the 64 firearms fatalities:

  • 11 were ambushed
  • 9 were handling domestic disturbance calls
  • 8 were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances
  • 6 were attempting to make an arrest
  • 6 were killed during traffic enforcement
  • 5 were investigating disturbance calls
  • 4 were killed during tactical encounters
  • 4 were mistaken identity/training accidents
  • 3 were responding to robbery/burglary in-progress calls
  • 3 were serving civil papers
  • 2 were serving felony warrants
  • 2 were killed in other circumstances
  • 1 was handling/transporting prisoners

Traffic-Related Fatalities

Traffic-related fatalities decreased 3% with 56 deaths in 2022 compared to 58 deaths in 2021. 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.

Of the 56 traffic-related deaths:

  • 30 were automobile crashes involving a collision with another vehicle or fixed object
  • 5 were single-vehicle crashes
  • 5 officers were killed in motorcycle crashes
  • 16 were struck-by fatalities
  • Other Causes and Fatalities

Driven by Covid-19 related deaths, the ‘other’ category continues to represent the largest group of officers who died in the line of duty in 2022. Beyond Covid-19-related deaths, this category includes long-term illnesses related to the September 11th terror attacks, and acute medical events brought on by extreme and/or stressful events experienced on-duty. Of the 106 ‘Other Causes’ deaths in 2022:

  • 70 were related to Covid-19
  • 27 were fatal medical events
  • 6 were due to aircraft crashes
  • 1 was due to a falling object
  • 1 officer fell to their death
  • 1 officer died assisting in a fire incident

States with the Largest Number of Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities

Texas experienced the largest number of law enforcement officer fatalities of all U.S. states in 2022, with 33 line-of-duty deaths.

  • New York had the second highest number with 12 officer deaths.
  • California and Georgia had the third highest number with 11 officer deaths each.
  • Tennessee had the fourth highest number with 10 officer deaths.
  • North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida had the sixth highest number with 9 officer deaths each.

In addition, 11 federal officers, 1 military, and 1 tribal officer died in 2022. 14 states and the U.S. Territories did not lose an officer in 2022.

Additional Demographics

There were 204 male officers killed in the line of duty, and 22 female officers. The average age of the fallen officers is 44, with an average of 15 years of service. On average, officers left behind two children.

The statistics released in the annual report are based on preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and may not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2023.

Another version of this article originally appeared in our sister publication Campus Safety Magazine on January 11, 2023. It has since been updated for SSI audiences.

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