2023 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report Reveals Overall Reduction in Line-of-Duty Deaths

Cover page of Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report

The number of law enforcement professionals nationwide who have died in the line of duty in the first half of 2023 decreased a dramatic 66% compared to the same period last year, according to preliminary data provided by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the leading authority on officer fatalities.

While much of the decrease is driven by substantial reductions in COVID-19 related deaths, line of duty deaths are down across the board. As reported in their official “2023 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report,the NLEOMF data shows that 52 federal, state, county, municipal, military, and campus officers have died in the line of duty in the first half of 2023, representing a 66% decrease compared to the 153 officers who died in the same time period in 2022.

“There is no good news in reporting the death of even a single police officer,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Interim CEO Bill Alexander, “yet, based on this preliminary data, we are cautiously optimistic that conditions may be improving for our law enforcement professionals who willingly put themselves at risk to serve and protect.”

Firearms-related Fatalities

Twenty-five officers were shot and killed during the first six months of the year, compared to 33 during the same period in 2022, a 24% decrease year over year. Firearms fatalities are the leading category of law enforcement deaths so far in 2023.

Of the 25 firearms fatalities, six were handling domestic disturbance calls; five were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; four were killed during traffic enforcement; three were investigating disturbance calls; two were attempting to make an arrest; two were responding to robbery/burglary in-progress calls; one was killed during a tactical encounter; one was serving a felony warrant; and one was ambushed.

Traffic-related Fatalities

Eleven officers were killed in traffic-related incidents during the first half of 2023, compared to 30 over the same period last year, a 63% decrease.

Two of the 11 officers were struck and killed deploying Tire Deflation Devices (TDD). Both officers were from the same law enforcement agency, killed in separate incidents. These struck-by fatalities represent a decrease of 82%, from 11 in 2022 to two in 2023.

Of the 11 traffic-related deaths, five were automobile crashes; three were single vehicle crashes; one officer was killed in a motorcycle crash; and two were struck-by fatalities.

Other Causes and Fatalities

The “other” category in this report contains a variety of health-related deaths and other line-of-duty fatalities. Sixteen officers are represented in the other category. In the first half of 2023, only two officers have been reported as having succumbed to complications from COVID-19, compared to 72 such officers in the same time period in 2022. Fourteen additional officers died of other causes during the first half of 2023, compared to 18 similar fatalities last year during this same period.

Of the 16 “other” causes-related deaths, eight were fatal medical events; two were due to aircraft crashes; two officers fell to their death; two were related to COVID-19; one officer died assisting in a fire incident; and one officer died by drowning.

States with the Largest Number of Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities

Louisiana has experienced the largest number of law enforcement officer fatalities of all US states so far in 2023, with six line-of-duty deaths. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania had the second highest number with four officer deaths each. California, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, and Oklahoma had the third highest number with three officer deaths each. Illinois, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee had the fourth highest number with two officer deaths each. Twenty-six states; Washington, DC; the US Territories; and Tribal Nations have not lost an officer so far in 2023.

Additional Demographics

There were 47 male officers and five female officers killed in the line of duty during the period. The average age of the fallen officers is 40, with an average of 12 years of service. On average, officers left behind two children.    

The statistics released in the mid-year report are based on preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and may not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2024.

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