According to preliminary statistics released today by the FBI, 72 of our nation’s law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty during 2011. By region, 29 victims were killed in the South, 21 in the Midwest, 10 each were killed in the West and the Northeast, and two were killed in Puerto Rico. The total number of officers feloniously killed in 2011 was 16 more than the 56 officers slain in 2010.
Of these 72 felonious deaths, 19 officers were killed during ambushes (14 during unprovoked attacks and five due to entrapment/premeditation situations); five were slain while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; 11 were killed during traffic pursuits/stops; five of the fallen officers interrupted robberies in progress or were pursuing robbery suspects; and four died while responding to disturbance calls (one being a domestic disturbance).
Six officers died during tactical situations; one died while conducting investigative activity; one officer died while handling or transporting a prisoner; and 20 officers were killed while attempting other arrests.
Offenders used firearms in 63 of the 72 felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in 2011. By type of firearm, 50 officers were killed with handguns; seven with rifles; and six with shotguns. Criminals used vehicles to kill six officers; weapons such as hands, fists, and feet to kill two officers; and a knife or cutting instrument to kill one officer.
Of the 72 victim officers, 49 were wearing body armor at the times of their deaths. Seventeen of the victim officers fired their own weapons, and four were killed with their own weapons. Ten officers attempted to use their own weapons. Seven of the slain officers had their service weapons stolen.
There were 68 separate incidents that resulted in the deaths of 72 officers. Of those incidents, 67 were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
In addition to the officers who were feloniously killed in 2011, 50 officers were killed in accidents. This is a decrease of 22 officers compared with the 72 officers who were accidentally killed in 2010.
The FBI will release final statistics on officers killed and assaulted in the line of duty in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s annual report Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2011, which will be published on this website in the fall.