According to statistics collected by the FBI, 118 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2016. Of these, 66 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 52 officers died in accidents.
In addition, 57,180 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults.
The 66 felonious deaths occurred in 29 states and in Puerto Rico. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2016 increased by 25 when compared with the 41 officers who were feloniously killed in 2015.
The five- and 10-year comparisons show an increase of 17 felonious deaths compared with the 2012 figure (49 officers) and an increase of eight deaths compared with 2007 data (58 officers).
Circumstances: At the time the 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed:
- 17 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation);
- 13 were answering disturbance calls (seven were domestic disturbance calls);
- nine were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances;
- six were engaged in tactical situations;
- five were performing investigative activities (such as surveillances, searches, or interviews);
- four were conducting traffic pursuits/stops;
- three were investigating drug-related matters;
- three were victims of unprovoked attacks;
- one was answering a burglary in progress call or pursuing a burglary suspect(s);
- one was answering a robbery in progress call or pursuing a robbery suspect(s); and
- four were attempting other arrests.
Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 62 of the 66 victim officers. Of these 62 officers, 37 were slain with handguns, 24 with rifles, and one with a shotgun. Four officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons.
Regions: Thirty of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 17 in the West, 13 in the Midwest, four in the Northeast, and two in Puerto Rico.
Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 59 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths.
Forty-five of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and 14 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the times of the felonious incidents.
Fifty-two law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2016. The majority (26 officers) were killed in automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths increased by seven when compared with the 45 officers who were accidentally killed in 2015.
Officer Profiles: The average age of the officers who were accidentally killed was 38 years old; the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 11. Of the 52 officers accidentally killed, 50 were male, and two were female. Forty of the officers were white, nine were black/African-American, and race was not reported for three of the officers.
Circumstances: Of the 52 officers accidentally killed:
- 26 died as a result of automobile accidents;
- 12 were struck by vehicles;
- seven officers died due to motorcycle accidents;
- three were accidentally shot;
- two officers drowned;
- one died in an aircraft accident; and
- one officer died in another type of duty-related accident.
Regions: Twenty-four of the accidental deaths occurred in the South, 12 in the Midwest, nine in the West, five in the Northeast, and two in Puerto Rico.
In 2016, of the 57,180 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 28.9 percent were injured. The largest percentage of victim officers (32.2 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 78.0 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.2 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.9 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 16.0 percent of assaults.
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2016, https://ucr.fbi.gov/leoka/2016.
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.