Police Firearms Fatalities Spike 78 Percent in First Half of 2016

police funeral


Ambush killings of officers increased more than 300 percent this year.

Their average age of officer victims was 39 years, with 12 years of service. On average, each officer left behind two children.


By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. Graduate-Post Master’s degree-Johns Hopkins University.


Crime in America.Net offered a series of articles on law enforcement this year examining officer and public perceptions of incidents and events. After close to fifty years of law enforcement and criminal justice service, I’m not sure that we have seen a more difficult year. Officers, critics and the public are questioning the role of policing. These have been difficult times.

Regardless of the continuousness, 900,000 men and women are out their daily offering their lives and safety to protect our communities and families. But it’s not just the deaths or injuries; the psychological toll policing takes on officers, their marriages and families is immense. Vast public criticism has not helped.

Police officers give much more than their lives and somehow, we need to document that to get a true picture of their sacrifice.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Data

Note: What follows is an edited version from the NLEOMF (source below)

According to preliminary data as of July 20, 2016, sixty-seven federal, state and local law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year, increasing eight percent over the 62 officers killed in the same period last year.

Thirty-two officers have been killed in firearms-related fatalities this year, a dramatic increase of 78 percent, compared to 18 deaths during the same period last year.

Traffic-related fatalities were the second leading cause of officer deaths, with 24 officers killed thus far in 2016. This represents a 17 percent decrease over the 29 officers killed in traffic-related incidents during the same period last year.

Eleven officers died as a result of other causes in 2016, six of which were job-related ailments. Two officers fell to their death, one officer died in an aircraft crash, one officer drowned and one officer was beaten to death.

Ambush killings of unsuspecting law enforcement officers is the leading circumstance of the firearms-related fatalities with 14 thus far in 2016—spiking more than 300 percent.

Sixty-three fallen officers were male and four were female. Their average age was 39 years, with 12 years of service. On average, each officer left behind two children.

Firearms-related fatalities rose 78 percent thus far in 2016. Thirty-two officers were shot and killed compared to 18 during the same period in 2015.

All of the 32 firearms related cases involved fatal assaults on officers, driving up the percentage of officers feloniously shot and killed.

Of the 32 firearms-related cases, 14 were the result of an ambush-style attack carried out upon unsuspecting officers, compared to three in the same period in 2015.

Seven of the cases involved officers stopping a suspicious person. Five officers were killed while executing tactical arrests or high-risk warrants. Four officers were killed while attempting to arrest suspects and two officers were killed while handling or transporting prisoners.

Handguns were the leading type of firearm used in fatal shootings of law enforcement officers in the first half 2016. Of the 32 officer fatalities, 19 officers were shot and killed with a handgun. Twelve officers were shot and killed with rifles and one officer was shot and killed with an unidentified firearm in the first half of 2016.

Of the 32 gunfire fatalities in the first half of 2016, 11 officers were shot and killed in July, the most of any other month. Nine officers were shot and killed in the month of February.

Firearms-related fatalities peaked in 1973, with 84 officers shot and killed in the first half of the year. Since then, the annual average has decreased from 63 in the 1970s, to 29 in the 2000s.

Forty-six officers were killed feloniously thus far in 2016, a 100 percent increase from 2015 when 23 officers died as a result of a criminal act.

Of the 46 officers feloniously killed this year, 32 were shot and killed; 12 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, an officer was beaten to death and an officer died of an illness contracted as a result of rescue and recovery work following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Of the 12 officers feloniously killed in traffic-related incidents, seven were killed in automobile crashes, three were struck, and two officers were killed in motorcycle crashes.

Twenty-one officers died in non-felonious incidents in 2016, a 46 percent decrease from 39 in 2015. Automobile crashes were the leading cause of non-felonious deaths in 2016 with eight fatalities, followed by job-related illnesses, which accounted for five officer deaths.

Two officers died in motorcycle crashes, two officers were struck and killed by a vehicle and two officers fell to their death. One officer was killed in an aircraft crash and one officer drowned

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

See, http://www.nleomf.org/assets/pdfs/reports/2016-Mid-Year-Officer-Fatalities-Report.pdf

Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net

Contact us at crimeinamerica@gmail.com. Media on deadline, use leonardsipes@gmail.com.

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