In 2014, line-of-duty deaths among law enforcement officers in the United States increased from 2013 figures but remained notably lower than the previous ten-year average. There were 126 line-of-duty deaths to state, local, tribal, or federal law enforcement officers. Of the 126 fatalities:
- 50 were the result of firearms-related incidents.
- 49 were the result of traffic-related incidents.
- 27 officers died from other causes, including heart attacks and non-vehicular-related incidents.
- Average age of officer was 41.
- Average length of service was 12 years.
Among the 50 firearms-related fatalities, there are a number of notable trends:
- 15 officers were killed in ambush attacks, a 200% increase from 2013.
- 8 officers were killed during a traffic stop or a pursuit, a 300% increase from 2013.
- Perpetrators used handguns in over two-thirds of firearms incidents.
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, in 2014 IACP published an Ambush Fact Sheet which provides a comprehensive overview of ambush attacks on law enforcement personnel since 1990 and designed a Fit for Duty poster that looks at officer vulnerabilities.
The IACP promotes physical wellness of officers as part of the Center for Officer Safety and Wellness. 24 officers died in 2014 due to medical illness, including at least 15 who suffered fatal heart attacks. As part of its Reducing Officer Injuries initiative, IACP has released the Impact of Fitness and Weight on Injuries fact sheet and the Reducing Officer Injuries study Final Report which highlight the importance of physical wellness. Recently, IACP also released two resources examining the importance of officer nutrition:
- A pocket guide for patrol officers providing healthy on-the-go meal options, and
- A fact sheet written for law enforcement leadership to encourage nutrition guidance and education as part of formal and informal departmental training.
Finally, traffic-related fatalities, whether automobile or motorcycle crashes or officers struck on the side of the road, continue to account for a glaring percentage of line-of-duty deaths despite being significantly down from previous decades. Five more officers died in traffic-related incidents in 2014 than in 2013. 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
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/officersafety. 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.