On January 11, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released preliminary data from its 2022 fatality report to help give an in-depth look at how our nation’s brave fallen heroes lost their lives last year.
The report shows that 226 federal, state, county, municipal, military, tribal and campus officers who died in the line of duty in 2022, a 61% decrease from the year prior. However, firearms-related deaths (64 in 2022) are up over the previous year and remain significantly higher than the average firearms-related fatalities in the previous decade.
The steep drop in overall deaths is driven almost entirely by the substantial reduction in COVID-19-related deaths. In 2022, 70 officers died from the virus contracted as a result of their duties, compared to 405 officers in 2021 — an 83% decrease.
Unfortunately, the troubling trend of higher-than-average firearms fatalities, which began in 2021 when 61 officers were killed compared to 45 in 2020, continues to be a major concern. The past two years represent a 21% increase in firearms-related deaths when compared to the average of 53 firearms-related fatalities from 2010 to 2020. Here are the somber details behind the 64 firearms-related fatalities in 2022:
- 11 were ambushed
- 9 were handling domestic disturbance calls
- 8 were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances
- 6 were attempting to make an arrest
- 6 were killed during traffic enforcement
- 6 were investigating disturbance calls
- 4 were killed during tactical encounters
- 4 were mistaken identity/training accidents
- 3 were responding to robbery/burglary in-progress calls
- 3 were serving civil papers
- 2 were serving felony warrants
- 2 were killed in other circumstances
- 1 was handling/transporting prisoners
“At a glance, it may seem like our profession has gotten safer over the past year due to the decline in line-of-duty deaths, but those who wear the badge know firsthand that our work is as dangerous as ever, if not more so, and these numbers prove it,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “With crime and anti-police rhetoric both running high, violence targeting law enforcement has surged. It’s up to each of us to inform our elected officials about the troubling data in this report and ensure something is done once and for all to protect our brothers and sisters in blue from these senseless and uncalled-for deadly attacks.”
Data from the NLEOMF report also looked at traffic-related fatalities, which saw a 3% decrease from 2022 (56 deaths) to 2021 (58 deaths). However, while overall traffic-related fatalities are down, the 40 fatal crashes in 2022 (automobile and motorcycle) represent a 29% increase compared to fatal crashes in 2021. Of the 56 traffic-related deaths:
- 30 were automobile crashes involving a collision with another vehicle or fixed object
- 5 were single-vehicle crashes
- 5 officers were killed in motorcycle crashes
- 16 were struck-by fatalities
In addition to firearms- and traffic-related fatalities, 106 line-of-duty deaths were under the report’s “other” category, which includes COVID-19 deaths, acute medical events and more. Of the 106 deaths under “other causes”:
- 70 were related to COVID-19
- 27 were fatal medical events
- 6 were due to aircraft crashes
- 1 was due to a falling object
- 1 officer fell to their death
- 1 officer died assisting in a fire incident
Texas experienced the largest number of law enforcement officer fatalities in the country, with 33 line-of-duty deaths, while California saw the third-highest with 11. The average age of the fallen officers was 44, with an average of 15 years of service. On average, officers left behind two children. The statistics released in the annual report are based on preliminary data compiled by the NLEOMF and may not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2023. For a complete copy of the 2022 end-of-year preliminary law enforcement officers fatalities report, please visit nleomf.org/fatalityreport.