Far fewer law-enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2019 than in the year prior, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that tracks officer deaths.
According to the organization’s preliminary year-end report, 128 Federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers lost their lives while on duty, 18 percent fewer than the 157 who died in 2018.
Suicides among law-enforcement officers, however, increased substantially in 2019, with at least 228 officers taking their lives, according to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts advocacy group. The suicides, which included 34 retirees, totaled 56 officers, or 33 percent, more than killed themselves in 2018.
In New York City alone, 10 officers took their lives last year, including four officers in June. Following the deaths of two officers on successive days in August, NYPD officials introduced several initiatives to avert what at the time threatened to become even more widespread. The last NYPD officer to take his life last year, Sgt. Linhong Li, 33, shot and killed himself inside his Queens home on Oct. 15.
No NYPD officers were killed by civilians, but the department and the officers’ families did have to contend with two friendly-fire deaths—those of Det. Brian Simonsen during a robbery in Queens in February and of Police Officer Brian Mulkeen during a struggle with an armed suspect in the Bronx in September.
Most Killed by Guns
"While we're certainly pleased to see a decline in the number of officer line-of-duty-deaths this year, the reality is that more than a hundred officers lost their lives," the Memorial Fund’s CEO, Marcia Ferranto, said in a statement. "That means we've still got a great deal of work to do. We've been tracking this information for more than 20 years, and the loss of even one life is difficult, particularly when these brave men and women wake up every day to keep the rest of us safe."
Nationally, 49 officers were killed by firearms last year, three fewer than were killed by guns in 2018. Of those, the Memorial Fund said, eight officers were killed while responding to domestic- or public-disturbance calls; seven were shot while trying to arrest someone; seven were killed while conducting investigative activity; six were ambushed; and six were shot while responding to a robbery. Four officers were shot while attempting to serve felony warrants.
Traffic-related fatalities claimed the lives of 43 officers, six fewer than in 2018.
Job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks or strokes, killed 19 officers, a decrease of 37 percent from the 30 who died of those causes in 2018.
Twelve officers, including nine from the NYPD, died of complications from 9/11-related cancers, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a Fairfax, Va.-based initiative.
Texas, with 17, had the highest number of officers killed in the line of duty. New York had 11 deaths, followed by California with 9 and Alabama with 7.
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