UNITED STATES (WTHI) — A new report shows the year 2016 had the highest level of law enforcement fatalities in five years.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 135 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in the past year.
“The 135 officer fatalities in 2016 are a 10 percent increase over the 123 who died in the line of duty last year and is the highest total since 2011 when 177 officers made the ultimate sacrifice,” the report published on Dec. 29 stated.
The report states firearms-related incidents were the number one cause of death in 2016 with 64 officers shot and killed in the United States. One of those includes Howard County Deputy Carl Koontz, who was killed in March.
Indiana State Police reported Deputy Koontz was hit in an exchange of gunfire at a trailer park in Russiaville while they were trying to serve a drug-related warrant. Koontz was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and later died of his injuries. Koontz had been on the force for nearly three years.
The report continues, with 64 shooting deaths of officers in 2016, 21 the result of ambush-style attacks—the highest total in more than two decades.
While 53 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, 18 died from other causes, including 11 who died from job-related illnesses—mostly heart attacks—while performing their duties. Other causes included beatings (3), a drowning, a fall, an aircraft crash and a stabbing.
Among the states, Texas had the highest number of officer fatalities, with 17, followed by California with 10, Louisiana with nine, Georgia with eight and Michigan with six. Six Federal law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2016, along with four from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and one tribal officer.
“Public safety is a partnership and, too often, the service and sacrifice of our law enforcement professionals is taken for granted,” observed NLEOMF President and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “We must never forget that 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide risk their lives every day for our safety and protection. And, this year, 135 of those men and women did not make it home to their families at the end of their shift. As we begin the new year, let us all resolve to respect, honor, and remember those who have served us so well and sacrificed so much in the name of public safety.”
There are currently 20,789 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to the first known death in 1791. Over the past decade (2006-2015) the average annual number of officer fatalities has been 151. The deadliest year on record for law enforcement was 1930 when 307 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. The last time officer fatalities dipped below 100 for a single year was 1944.
The statistics released are based on preliminary data compiled by the NLEOMF and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2016. For a complete copy of the preliminary 2016 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report, go to: www.LawMemorial.org/FatalitiesReport.