The Federal Bureau of Investigation released preliminary statistics Monday that show nearly an 89 percent increase in the number of police officers who were killed while on duty in 2014.
Last year, the Bureau’s report showed 27 officers feloniously killed in 2013, less than half the annual average of 64 and the lowest rate in 35 years. However, that number jumped to 51 last year, and appears to be on track for another uptick in 2015.
In 46 of the 51 deaths, firearms were used to kill the officers, including 32 instances with handguns, 11 rifles and three incidents with a shotgun. Thirty-five of the 51 officers were said to be wearing body armor at the time they were killed. Only five of the officers fired at their assailants, and six attempted to, but were unsuccessful. Seven of the slain officers had their service weapons taken by their assailants and one officer was killed with his own gun.
Four officers lost their lives after intentionally being struck by a vehicle and one officer was killed with the offender’s personal weapon, meaning hands, fists or feet.
The most deadly scenario proved to be responding to disturbance calls, which claimed the lives of 11 officers. However, while often believed to be the most dangerous, domestic disturbances only accounted for a single incident which resulted in an officer’s death.
Ten officers were killed while conducting traffic stops, which sometimes led to pursuits. Eight officers were killed in ambushes and six while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances. While in the midst of investigative activities, five officers lost their lives, and four were killed during tactical situations. Three deaths occurred while dealing with persons who suffered from a mental illness, and three more officers were killed while making arrests. A single officer was killed while dealing with an incident involving drugs.
The highest number of officer deaths was seen in the South, followed by the West, Midwest, Northeast and Puerto Rico.
Aside from intentionally deaths, an additional 44 officers were accidentally killed last year while on duty, five less than the previous year. More than half of those deaths came from the result of automobile accidents.
In 2013, the number of accidental officer deaths exceeded the number of intentional, felonious deaths, but in 2014, that statistic was reversed.
The full report from the FBI, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2014, will be published in the fall.