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COVID-19 Was The Leading Cause of Death for Police in 2021

Some 458 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers died in the line-of-duty in 2021, according to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). This is an increase of fifty five percent from the 295 officers killed during the same period last year, and is the highest total line-of-duty officer deaths since 1930, when there were 312 fatalities. Of the 458 preliminary law enforcement line-of- duty deaths, firearms-related fatalities were the second leading cause of law enforcement deaths. These deaths represent a thirty eight percent increase over the same period a year earlier. The leading circumstance of firearms fatalities were officers killed in ambush-style attacks.

Handguns were the leading type of firearm used in fatal shootings of law enforcement officers. Of the 62 officer fatalities, 32 were killed with a handgun, 8 were killed by a rifle, 4 were killed with shotguns, and one was killed by the officer’s own weapon. The type of firearm used in the remaining 17 fatalities is still under investigation or unknown. Some 301 officer fatalities have been identified as caused by COVID. The dramatic increase in traffic-related fatalities in 2021 is also cause for concern, the memorial fund says. In 2021, 58 officers died due to traffic-related causes, such as single-vehicle crashes, vehicle collisions, motorcycle crashes and “struck-by” incidents. These 58 traffic-related fatalities are an increase of thirty eight percent compared to the 42 deaths during the same period a year earlier..


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