According to preliminary statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty during 2009. Geographically, 21 of the victim officers were killed in the South, 13 in the West, seven in the Northeast, and five in the Midwest. Two officers were slain in Puerto Rico. The total number of officers killed is seven higher than in 2008.
By circumstance, 15 deaths occurred as a result of ambush situations, nine officers died during arrest situations, eight were killed while handling traffic pursuits/stops, five died responding to disturbance calls, four while investigating suspicious persons/circumstances, four during tactical situations, two while handling and transporting prisoners, and one while handling a person with a mental illness.
A breakdown of weapons revealed that firearms were used in the majority of slayings. Of the 45 officers killed with firearms, 28 were killed with handguns, 15 with rifles, and two with shotguns. Three officers were killed with vehicles.
At the time they were killed, 35 law enforcement officers were wearing body armor. Twelve officers fired their weapons, and nine of the slain law enforcement officers attempted to fire their weapons. Seven officers had their weapons stolen, and two officers were slain with their own weapons.
The 48 law enforcement officers were killed in 37 separate incidents in 2009. All of the incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
In addition to the officers who were feloniously killed, 47 law enforcement officers were accidentally killed in 2009. This number is 21 lower than the previous year’s number.
The FBI will release final statistics in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s annual report, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, which will be published on the Internet in the fall of this year.