The FBI today released preliminary statistics indicating that 41 of our nation’s law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2008. By region, 20 of the victim officers were killed in the South, nine in the Midwest, nine in the West, and three in the Northeast. The number of officers feloniously killed was 17 fewer than in 2007.

Of these felonious deaths, 10 occurred during arrest situations, eight officers were killed during traffic pursuits/stops, seven during tactical situations, six while investigating suspicious persons/circumstances, six were as a result of ambush situations, two officers were performing investigative activities, one was responding to a disturbance call, and one was handling, transporting, or had custody of a prisoner.

Firearms were the weapons most often used in these slayings. Of the 35 officers killed with firearms, 25 were killed with handguns, five with rifles, four with shotguns, and one officer was murdered with an unknown type of firearm. Four officers were killed by vehicles, and two officers died from injuries as a result of a bomb.

At the time of their deaths, 30 of the law enforcement officers were wearing body armor. Ten officers fired their weapons, and four of the officers attempted to fire their weapons. Six officers had their weapon stolen, and four officers were killed with their own weapons.

The 41 law enforcement officers were killed in 38 separate incidents. All 38 incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means.

The number of officers killed in accidents also dropped from the previous year as 67 officers were accidentally killed in 67 separate incidents while performing their duties in 2008. This represents 16 fewer officers killed in accidents than in 2007.

The FBI will release final statistics in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s annual report, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, which will be published on the Internet in the fall of this year.

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