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Police Officer Deaths From Firearms Rose In 2021-22 Over Last Decade

Sixty four officers were fatally shot in the line of duty in 2022, according to a preliminary annual report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That's far below the number of firearms-related officer deaths 50 years ago. Still, the total, the same as in 2021, represents an increase over the average number of officer deaths in more recent history and is a "disturbing trend," USA Today reports. Marcia Ferranto, CEO of the organization, said the data should prompt officer safety and wellness programs to investigate why officers are dying at a greater rate today due to firearms than they were 10 years ago. From 2010 through the end of 2020, an average of 53 officers were killed each year in firearm-related incidents. The 64 deaths by gunfire in 2022 represent an increase of 21 percent over the average of the decade prior. Overall, 226 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year. That's a 61 percent decline from 2021 "almost entirely" due to fewer COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 killed 70 officers and remained the leading cause of officer deaths in the line of duty, followed by firearm-related fatalities. Another 56 officers died in traffic-related incidents, either in collisions or struck while outside their cars.

Of the dozens of officers fatally shot last year, 11 were ambushed, 10 were attempting to make an arrest, nine were handling domestic disputes, eight were investigating "suspicious circumstances or people," six were killed making traffic stops, and five were killed handling disturbance calls. Four were "inadvertently or mistakenly" shot by fellow officers, three were shot while serving civil papers and responding to robbery calls, two were shot while serving a felony warrant, and one was shot "handling an inmate." California saw five firearm-related officer deaths, the most of any state, followed by four each in Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. It's not yet clear what's contributing to the increased number of officer firearm deaths. Ferranto said her organization plans to compile more information on the topic to identify causes and potential solutions. Firearms became the leading cause of death among children and teens in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, there were more than 47,000 firearm-related deaths and firearm homicides and suicides rose to their highest rates in three decades. Last year, a record number of children were injured or killed by gunfire.


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