|Photo by James Mitchell.|
A new report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) found that the number of firearm-related police officer deaths in 2014 is below the decade average — and that the rate of these deaths has been trending downward since the 1970s. Nevertheless, several advocates and news outlets seized upon a one-year rise in the number of police shootings as evidence of a broader trend.
|CREDIT: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund|
Of the 126 cops who died in the line of duty in 2014, the leading cause of those deaths were firearms, which killed 50 officers. Every one of these deaths is a tragedy, but the good news is that this figure is below the decade average: 53. Between 2000 and 2009, the average was 57. Indeed, that average has been in decline since 1973, when 156 cops were killed by guns.
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2014, however, does follow a year that saw fewer officers killed in the line of duty by guns than any other year on record. Last year, 31 officers were shot and killed — a 38 percent decrease from 2012. The number of gun-related fatalities actually dropped to a 126-year low. Nevertheless, as the NLEOMF data indicates, the overall number of deaths in 2014 is consistent with a general downward trend (the spike in deaths in 2001 results in part from the attacks on September 11. Seventy-two officers were killed that day.)