2013 in Review: Law enforcement fatalities dip to lowest level in six decades

33 officers killed in firearms-related incidents is fewest since 1887

According to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 111 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2013, an eight percent decrease from 2012, when 121 officers were killed. This was the fewest number of fatalities for the law enforcement profession since 1959 when 110 officers died.

Traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer fatalities in 2013, killing 46 officers. Thirty-one officers were killed in automobile crashes, 11 officers were struck and killed outside their vehicle and four officers were killed in motorcycle crashes. Traffic-related fatalities decreased four percent from 2012 when 48 officers were killed. 

Firearms-related fatalities were the second leading cause of death among our nation’s law enforcement officers in 2013. Firearms-related fatalities accounted for 33 deaths, decreasing 33 percent from 2012 when 49 officers were killed. Ambush attacks were once again the leading circumstance of fatal shootings in 2013, with seven officers killed.

Officer fatalities unrelated to firearms or traffic saw a 33 percent increase in 2013. Thirty-two officers died of other causes in 2013 compared to 24 in 2012. Job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks, increased substantially in 2013 with 18 officer deaths compared to eight officers in 2012.

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