Law enforcement officers’ line-of-duty deaths plummeted last year as the coronavirus pandemic abated, but firearm deaths remained historically high, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
At least 64 officers were shot and killed in the line of duty last year, matching the firearm death toll from 2021.
But those 64 firearm deaths in each of the last two years represent a 21% increase over the average number of officers killed by felonious assaults involving firearms over the last decade. An average of 53 officers were killed by gunfire each year from 2010 to 2020.
While firearm deaths remained high, line-of-duty deaths overall fell 61% to 226 last year, mostly due to a massive reduction in COVID-19 deaths.
Another 40 officers died from traffic-related crashes in 2022, a 29% increase over 2021. The remaining deaths were attributed to other causes, such as falling objects and fire-related incidents.
Of the 226 officers who died in the line of duty last year, 204 were male and 22 were female, while each fallen officer left two children behind on average.
The elevated levels of firearm deaths over the past two years come as violent crime has spiked in both cities and rural communities throughout the United States.
“The top concern I hear from local law enforcement leaders is gang and gun violence — whether it’s gangs terrorizing a community, juveniles graduating from carjackings to even worse violence, or traffickers moving drugs through a neighborhood and inundating it with crime,” FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote in an op-ed for Fox News last week.