Number of police officer deaths dropped last year, report finds

Jan 11, 2024, 5:45 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of police officers who died on the job dropped again last year, including deaths from gunfire, traffic accidents and COVID-19, according to a new report released Thursday.

A total of 136 U.S. police officers died in the line of duty in 2023, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund yearend report found.

That’s a decrease of about 39% from the year before, when 224 officers died, and continues a downward trend after police deaths hit an all-time high of 586 in 2021, largely driven by the coronavirus.

“Just in the last two or three years, we’ve posted some really, really big, alarming numbers in terms of overall officer deaths each year,” said Bill Alexander, the Memorial Fund’s executive director. “This year, for the first time in a while, we’re down in almost every category.”

A total of 47 officers died after being shot in the line of duty, down 25% from the year before. Still, another report from the National Fraternal Order of Police found the number of officers struck by gunfire was at a high of 378, showing that firearm danger remains serious even as trauma care and gear like bullet-resistant vests have advanced in saving lives, Alexander said.

Officers killed in traffic crashes dropped 27% compared with the year before. Five deaths were related to COVID-19, compared with 74 in 2022.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private nonprofit in Washington that built and maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial monument, as well as a database of officer deaths dating to 1786. The data in its yearend reports come from federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies.

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Number of police officer deaths dropped last year, report finds