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Law enforcement fatalities dip to lowest level in six decades

By CALVIN PYNN

calvin@southwesttimes.com

 

Law enforcement officer fatalities dropped for the second year in a row to the lowest level in six decades, according to a news release from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The release said the number of officers killed in firearms-related incidents this year was the fewest since the 1800s. The preliminary data was compiled and released Tuesday in an annual research published by the  NLEOMF.

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide in 2013. This was the fewest number of fatalities for the law enforcement profession since 1959 when 110 officers died.

This year’s total was eight percent fewer than 2012, when 121 officers made the ultimate sacrifice.

According to Craig W. Floyd, NLEOMF Chairman and CEO, the organization is working hard to create a new culture of safety in law enforcement.

“The only good news is zero deaths, but this very significant drop in law enforcement fatalities the past two years is extremely encouraging,” said Floyd.

According to the release, the number one cause of officer fatalities in 2013 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 46 lives. One of those officers was Pulaski-based state trooper Andrew D. Fox, who was killed while directing traffic at the 2012 Virginia State Fair.

Fox was struck by a vehicle and killed on Oct. 5 2012 while directing traffic leaving the fair at Meadow Event Park. Two plaques hang at the park’s Public Safety Operations Center, honoring Fox’s life and service.

Fox was also a member of the Draper Volunteer Fire Department in addition to his assignment to Pulaski County as a state trooper.

Thirty-three officers were killed in firearms-related incidents this past year – a 33 percent drop from 2012. It is the lowest number since 1887, when 27 officers were shot to death.

Thirty-two officers died due to other causes in 2013, including 14 who suffered heart attacks while performing their duties.

Just two years ago, officer fatalities spiked to 169, which led to a number of new initiatives aimed at promoting law enforcement safety. Among them were: an increasing number of agencies requiring officers to wear bullet-resistant vests; the formation of the National Officer Safety and Wellness Group by the U.S. Department of Justice; and the  VALOR program launched by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide training to help prevent violence against officers and to help officers survive violent encounters when they do occur.

Since 2011, all categories of officer fatalities have dropped by 34 percent and firearms-related deaths have declined by 54 percent.

The statistics released by the NLEOMF are based on preliminary data compiled. They do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the  National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2014.

For a complete copy of the preliminary report on 2013 law enforcement fatalities, go to:  www.LawMemorial.org/ResearchBulletin.