Preliminary statistics released Monday by the FBI show that 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2016 – an increase of 61% from the 41 officers killed in 2015.
“This must end,” President Donald Trump declared at a memorial service for the nation’s fallen officers on Monday:
“This must end. That is why one of my first actions was to direct the Department of Justice to develop a strategy to better prevent and prosecute crimes of violence against our Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.”
Offenders used firearms in 93.9% (62 of the 66) felonious deaths. These included:
37 incidents with handguns,
24 incidents with rifles,
4 victim officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons, and
1 incident with a shotgun.
By region, nearly half of the officers killed as a result of criminal acts occurred in the South:
South: 30 officers killed,
West: 17 officers killed,
Midwest: 13 officers killed,
Northeast: 4 officers killed,
Puerto Rico: 2 officers killed
At the time the 66 law enforcement officers were fatally wounded:
17 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation);
13 were answering disturbance calls (seven were domestic disturbance calls);
9 were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances;
6 were engaged in tactical situations;
5 were performing investigative activities;
4 were conducting traffic pursuits/stops;
3 were investigating drug-related matters;
3 were victims of unprovoked attacks;
1 was answering a robbery in progress call or pursuing a robbery suspect(s);
1 was answering a burglary in progress call or pursuing a burglary suspect(s);
4 were attempting other arrests.
Of the 66 officers killed, 50 (76%) were confirmed to be wearing body armor at the times of the incidents. Fourteen of the 66 slain officers fired their service weapons, and 10 officers attempted to fire their weapons. Three victim officers had their weapons stolen; one officer was killed with his own weapon.
The 66 victim officers died from injuries sustained in 56 separate incidents. Fifty-four of those incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
Another 52 officers were killed in line-of-duty accidents in 2016, which are officer deaths that were found not to be willful and intentional. This is an increase of 16% from the 45 officers who were accidentally killed in 2015.
The South again led all regions, doubling the second highest death toll:
South: 24 officers died from accidents,
Midwest: 12 officers died from accidents,
West: 9 officers died from accidents,
Northeast: 5 officers died from accidents, and
Puerto Rico: 2 officers died from accidents.
Final statistics and complete details will be available in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s publication, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2016, which will be published on the FBI website in the fall.