2009 was indeed a tale
of two trends in U.S. law enforcement fatalities.
Fewer officers died in
the line-of-duty this year (124 as of yesterday) —the
lowest total deaths since 1959. However, the number of
officers who were shot and killed surged 23 percent this
year, driven in part by five separate incidents in which
multiple officers were gunned down by one offender.
Those are among the key
findings of a new report released today by the National
Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in conjunction
with Concerns of Police Survivors.
"This year’s overall, 7
percent reduction in law enforcement deaths was driven
largely by a steep drop in the number of officers killed
in traffic-related incidents,” reported NLEOMF Chairman
and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “However, that bit of good news
was overshadowed by an alarming surge in the number of
officers killed by gunfire.”
Highlights of the report
are summarized below. We invite you to read the full
Research Bulletin on our website at
Multiple Fatality Shootings Shock Law Enforcement
Nearly one-third of this year’s 48 firearms-related
fatalities—15 deaths in all—occurred in just five
incidents in which more than one officer was shot by a
These tragedies took
place in Lakewood, WA (4 deaths); Oakland, CA (4);
Pittsburgh, PA (3); Okaloosa County, FL (2), and
Seminole County, OK (2). 2009 saw the most
multiple-fatality law enforcement deaths since 1981.
"Many of the cold-blooded career criminals our officers
confront each and every day do not think twice about
assaulting or killing a cop.”
— Craig W. Floyd
|Responding to domestic disturbance calls
proved particularly dangerous for law enforcement in
2009. Almost 23 percent of this year’s gunfire deaths—a
total of 11, including the three officers gunned down in
Pittsburgh in April—involved officers responding to
domestic disturbance calls. Unprovoked ambush attacks
claimed another six lives, including the four Lakewood
officers executed in a coffee shop in November.
“It’s Never Over for Us”: A Survivor’s Perspective
|Jennifer Thacker knows all too well that behind all
the facts and figures on officer fatalities are family
members, partners and communities that are left without
their loved ones, colleagues and protectors. Her
husband, Investigator Brandon Thacker of the Kentucky
Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, was shot and
killed in the line of duty in April 1998. Today, Mrs.
Thacker serves as National President of C.O.P.S.
"I am personally learning that it’s never over for us,
as my husband’s killer was released from prison just
yesterday [December 28, 2009].”
“Even 11 years later, my
family, Brandon’s co-workers and I are in need of the
continued support from C.O.P.S.,” she said. “And C.O.P.S.
continues to keep the promises made to law enforcement
survivors, providing support and resources to rebuild
their shattered lives today and years later.”
A Profile of 2009’s Fallen Heroes
The law enforcement heroes who made the ultimate
sacrifice in 2009 came from 35 states and Puerto Rico.
For the third year in a row, Texas, Florida and
California had the most fatalities—a combined figure of
28, or 23 percent of the national total.
Six federal law enforcement
officers died in 2009, including three special agents
with the Drug Enforcement Administration who were killed
in an October helicopter crash in Afghanistan while
conducting counter-narcotics operations.
The average age of the
officers killed this year was 39; they averaged 10.5
years of law enforcement service. Interestingly, all but
one of the officers killed this year were men; the one
female officer was Tina Griswold, one of the four
Lakewood (WA) officers ambushed in November. By
contrast, nearly 10 percent of the officers killed in
all of 2008 were women, the highest percentage in
Our Commitment to Officer Safety
The Memorial Fund is
committed to compiling and sharing information that
promotes law enforcement safety, and we hope you find
this information interesting and helpful.