In 2013, line-of-duty deaths among law enforcement officers in the United States declined to its lowest recorded number in over 50 years. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there were 111 line-of-duty deaths to state, local, tribal, or federal law enforcement officers. Of the 111 fatalities:
- 46 were the result of traffic-related incidents
- 33 were the result of firearms-related incidents
- 32 officers died of other causes, including heart attacks and training accidents
Traffic-related incidents accounted for the majority of fatalities:
- 31 officers were killed in automobile crashes
- 11 officers were struck and killed while outside of their vehicles
- 4 officers were killed in motorcycle crashes
The IACP has produced roll-call videos, developed resolutions, and continuously highlights other new and relevant materials and reports to help law enforcement leaders better address fatalities caused by traffic-related incidents. These include:
- “Is Today Your Day?” – A roll-call video that underscores the tragedies resulting from officers not wearing their seatbelts
- “Manage to Survive” – A video that highlights officer safety considerations during roadside traffic management
- In 2011, the IACP passed a resolution encouraging mandatory seat belt use by officers
- “Driving Forces: What Chiefs Say About Officer-Involved Crashes” – A report compiled by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) that highlights the factors contributing to injuries from crashes
Additionally, while the 33 fatalities caused by firearm violence are significantly lower than 2012, one death or serious injury to a law enforcement officer is one too many. Last year saw:
- 7 officers killed in ambush situations
- 6 officers killed while reporting to disturbance calls
- 3 officers killed feloniously during in a traffic stop
Additional fatalities from firearms were attributed to a range of other circumstances. Also noteworthy is the fact that handguns were the leading type of firearm used in these fatalities (19).
To that extent, the IACP educates law enforcement executives on the range of technologies and equipment that can be deployed to prevent and mitigate the effects of firearm violence, the importance of vests, and the importance of awareness. The IACP participates in the “Vests Save Lives” campaign and partners with DuPont on the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club to increase the use of personal body armor and reduce officer fatalities and disabilities. In 2011, the IACP passed a resolution encouraging mandatory vest use among law enforcement officers.
Finally, the IACP promotes physical wellness of officers. Cardiovascular health is an important aspect of overall officer wellness. The Officer Down Memorial Page reports that 14 officers suffered fatal hearts attacks in the line-of-duty in 2013, and 4 of those individuals were alarmingly under the age of 40. The Impact of Fitness and Weight on Injuries fact sheet and the “Reducing Officer Injuries” final report highlight the importance of physical wellness.
It is IACP’s position that no injury to or death of a law enforcement professional is acceptable and strives to improve awareness on a range of complex officer safety issues. For more information on the IACP Center for Officer Safety and Wellness, please visit http://www.theiacp.org/IACP-Center-for-Officer-Safety-and-Wellness. If you have officer safety and wellness best practices to share or have a specific topic that you would like to see addressed, please contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.