Officers are seen at the 24th Annual Candlelight Vigil in Judiciary Square in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 2012.
Photo credit: Photo by Daniel Adler/Officer.com
The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty is on track to see a year-to-year decrease for the first time since 2009.
With only a few days remaining in 2012, 127 federal, state and local officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice, which is a 23 percent decrease from 2011, according to preliminary data released today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
There were 165 officer fatalities last year, 154 in 2010, 122 in 2009 and 141 in 2008.
"The loss of any officer is unacceptable and devastating to their family, their community and our nation. However, I am encouraged to see a significant decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed in 2012 after two years of alarming increases in the number of fatalities." NLEOMF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Craig W. Floyd said in a statement.
"The law enforcement community has banded together with laser-like focus on peace officer safety at the federal, state and local levels and I believe these numbers are reflective of those combined efforts."
The top cause of officer fatalities in 2012 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 50 lives.
Forty-nine officers are killed by gunfire while 28 others died due to other causes.
This year saw significant decreases compared to 2011 in several areas following two years of alarming increases.
Traffic-related fatalities declined by 17 percent while firearms-related fatalities declined by 32 percent.
Of the 50 officers killed in traffic-related incidents, 30 were killed in automobile crashes, 14 were struck outside their vehicle, and six were killed in motorcycle crashes.
Of the 49 officers killed in firearms-related incidents, 15 were killed in ambushes, nine were killed during traffic stops or while in pursuit, five were killed in drug-related incidents, five were killed responding to a robbery, four were killed while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, three were killed responding to domestic disturbance calls and two each were killed while attempting an arrest, responding to a disturbance call or from accidental shootings.
One officer was killed responding to a burglary in progress and one was killed during an investigative activity.
Of the 28 officers who died due to other causes, 14 were caused by job-related illnesses, five were stabbed, three fell to their death, two each were killed in helicopter crashes and beatings, one was killed in an aircraft crash and one was killed in a boating incident.
The state that had the most officer fatalities was Texas (10), followed by Georgia (8), Maryland (6).
Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania all saw five officer died in the line of duty.
Nine officers killed in 2012 served with federal law enforcement agencies and seven served with correctional agencies.
Thirteen of the 127 officers who died were female and the average age of all of the officer was 41 with an average time served of 12 years.
"We are closer to being below 100 peace officer fatalities than we have been for many years. But I am still painfully aware that 127 families will celebrate the New Year without their officer," National President of Concerns of Police Survivors Madeline Neumann said in a statement.
"I find comfort knowing that these families will be embraced by the law enforcement community and given the support and love they will need as they embark on their journey through grief."