Fewer police officers were killed in the line of duty last year compared to the previous year, according to a national police organization.
As of Dec. 28, 124 officers in 35 states and Puerto Rico were killed in the line of duty, compared to 133 fatalities in 2008, preliminary numbers from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show. Despite the decrease, authorities expressed concern that 48 officers were shot and killed last year – up from 39 in 2008.
“This year’s overall reduction in law enforcement deaths was driven largely by a steep, 21 percent drop in the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents,” NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said in a statement. “However, that bit of good news was overshadowed by an alarming surge in the number of officers killed by gunfire.”
The 124 deaths in 2009 were the fewest since 1959, when 108 officers were killed in the line of duty.
“To reach a 50-year low in officer deaths is a real credit to the law enforcement profession and its commitment to providing the best possible training and equipment to our officers,” Floyd said. “But we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a state of complacency.
“There are nearly 60,000 criminal assaults against our law officers every year in this country, resulting in more than 15,000 injuries,” Floyd added. “And, over the past decade, more than 1,600 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Many of the cold-blooded career criminals our officers confront each and every day do not think twice about assaulting or killing a cop.”