Fifty-one police officers were killed while performing their duties across the United States in 2014, an 89% increase from the previous year, according to preliminary statistics released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Despite the dramatic increase, the number of police officers killed in 2014 still fell under the 35-year average of 64. With 27 murdered officers, 2013 saw the fewest deaths of officers in the line of duty since 1980.
The FBI’s count includes officers who were “feloniously killed,” which excludes officers who died on the line of duty as a result of accidents, suicides, or illnesses contracted while wearing their uniform. Beyond the 51 officers who were killed feloniously, 44 officers suffered fatal mishaps in 2014.
In 2014, 11 officers were killed while answering disturbance calls, 10 while conducting traffic stops, eight in ambushes, six while “investigating suspicious persons,” five while “performing investigative duties,” four in “tactical situations,” and three while “handling persons with mental illness.” Only one officer was killed during a “drug-related matter.”
Of the 51 cops who were killed, 46 nationwide died of gunshot injuries. Seventeen died in the southern states, 14 in the west, eight in the Midwest, eight in the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico. The 51 cops who were killed died in 48 separate incidents. The alleged perpetrators in each incidents were arrested or killed at the scene.
The FBI’s meticulous count of murdered police officers contrasts with the lack of a reliable database of civilians killed by police in the United States. As the Guardian reported, a recent report that studied the period between 2003 and 2009 counted a yearly average of 928 killings of civilians by police. The total number, however, is likely to be higher, but without official databases there is simply no way to know.