Law-enforcement officer deaths in the line of duty this year totaled 140, compared with 181 in 2007. Last year’s figure represented a spike in police deaths.
The figures were reported by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors.
Gunfire deaths dropped to 41 officers this year, compared with 68 in 2007. The 2008 number represented the lowest total since 1956 — when there were 35 — and was far below the peak of 156 officers killed by gunfire in 1973.
More than 70 percent of policemen use bullet-resistant vests compared with fewer than half a decade ago, Craig Floyd, chairman of the Memorial Fund, said in an interview.
Traffic-related deaths also declined to 71 compared with 83 in 2007.
However, 15 women officers died in 2008 compared with six a year ago. More women officers than before are in harm’s way, Floyd said, because they’re taking on the same dangerous assignments as men.
The states with the most deaths were Texas with 14, followed by California with 12, then Florida and Pennsylvania with eight apiece.