FBI Releases Stats on Police Killed in Line of Duty in 2020

According to statistics reported to the FBI, 93 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2020. Of these, 46 officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 47 officers died in accidents.

Felonious Deaths

The 46 felonious deaths occurred in 25 states. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2020 was two less than the 48 officers who were feloniously killed in 2019.

The 5- and 10-year comparisons show a decrease of 20 felonious deaths compared with the 2016 figure (66 officers) and a decrease of 26 deaths compared with 2011 data (72 officers).

Officer Profiles. The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 39 years old. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years at the times of the fatal incidents. Of the 46 officers:

  • 41 were male
  • 5 were female
  • 32 were white
  • 10 were Black/African American
  • 2 were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
  • 1 was American Indian/Alaska Native.

The race of 1 officer who died was not reported.

Circumstances Encountered by Victim Officer Upon Arrival at Scene of Incident. Of the 46 officers feloniously killed:

  • 9 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation)
  • 7 died as a result of investigative or law enforcement activities
    • 2 were drug-related matters
    • 2 were handling a person with a mental illness
    • 1 officer who died was conducting a traffic violation stop
    • 1 was conducting a high-risk traffic stop
    • 1 was investigating a motor vehicle crash
  • 7 were assisting other law enforcement officers
    • 2 officers were assisting by deploying tire deflation devices
    • 1 was assisting with a high-risk traffic stop
    • 1 was assisting with an officer down (requiring emergency assistance)
    • 1 was assisting with a vehicular pursuit
    • 1 was assisting an officer requiring emergency assistance (that was not a pursuit)
    • 1 was assisting with a nonemergency circumstance
  • 5 were responding to crimes in progress
    • 2 were reported as a shooting/shots being fired (not “active shooter” situation)
    • 2 were reported in the category titled “other crime against property”
    • 1 was a burglary
  • 4 were responding to disorders or disturbances
    • 3 were responding to a domestic disturbance (family quarrel, no assault)
    • 1 was responding to a domestic violence call
  • 3 were involved in arrest situations
    • 2 were attempting to restrain/control/handcuff the offender(s)
    • 1 was providing verbal instructions to the offender
  • 2 were responding to citizen complaints
    • 1 was a traffic complaint
    • 1 was a verbal complaint regarding a noncriminal violation
  • 2 were involved in tactical situations serving/attempting to serve an arrest warrant.
  • 2 had encountered or were assisting a person experiencing an emotional disturbance.
  • 2 were killed during an unprovoked attack.
  • 1 was serving/attempting to serve court order (eviction notice, subpoena, etc.)
  • 1 was assisting a motorist.
  • 1 was killed in an incident reported in the category of “other.”

Weapons. Offenders used firearms to kill 41 of the 46 victim officers. Four officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons. One officer was killed by the offender’s use of personal weapons (hand, fists, feet, etc.). Of the 41 officers killed by firearms:

  • 21 were slain with handguns
  • 10 with rifles
  • 10 with firearms in which the types of firearms were unknown or not reported.

Regions. Felonious deaths were reported in all four U.S. regions.

  • 24 officers were feloniously killed in the South
  • 11 in the Midwest
  • 10 in the West
  • 1 in the Northeast.

Suspects. Law enforcement agencies identified 44 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths.

  • 20 of the assailants had prior criminal arrests
  • 5 of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the times of the felonious incidents.

Accidental Deaths

Forty-seven law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2020, an increase of six when compared with the 41 officers accidentally killed in 2019. The majority (26 officers) were killed in motor vehicle crashes.

Officer Profile. The average age of officers who were accidentally killed was 40 years old; the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 10. Of the 47 officers accidentally killed:

  • 43 were male
  • 4 were female
  • 37 were white
  • 9 were Black/African American
  • The race for 1 victim officer was not reported.

Circumstances. The 47 officers accidentally killed died in a variety of scenarios:

  • 26 died as a result of motor vehicle crashes.
    • 24 while operating cars, SUVs, trucks, or vans
    • 2 while operating an ATV or a motorcycle
  • 12 were pedestrian officers struck by vehicles
  • 5 were killed in firearm-related incidents
  • 2 officers drowned during rescue operations
  • 1 officer died as a result of an aircraft crash
  • 1 officer died in a fall.

Use of seatbelts. Of the 24 officers killed in motor vehicle crashes while operating cars, SUVs, trucks, or vans, eight were wearing seatbelts and five were not. Data about seatbelt usage was not reported for 11 of the officers.

Regions. Accidental deaths were reported in four U.S. regions.

  • 29 of the accidental deaths occurred in the South
  • 9 in the West
  • 7 in the Midwest
  • 2 in the Northeast.

Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2020

Release schedule. To provide a more timely release of data to the public, today’s release provides three categories of data. These categories include data and statistics concerning officers feloniously and accidentally killed and statistics about federal officers killed and/or assaulted. The remaining portions of the information, which present data reported to the FBI concerning law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty in 2020, will be available later this year:

  • Assault data will be released in the fall and will include national statistics about officers assaulted in the line of duty.
  • Detailed assault Data will be released in the fall and will include statistics and narratives concerning a subset of assault incidents in which officers received injuries with firearms or knives/cutting instruments.

Comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks were released in the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) portion of the Crime Data Explorer website. Previous editions of the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted publication, which contain data from 1996 to 2019, are available here.

LEOKA 2020 data is available exclusively on the FBI’s Law Enforcement Data Explorer (a subset of the Crime Data Explorer).

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