An increase in the number of road fatalities leads to an increase in the number of deaths of law enforcement officers


About 30 police cars line up for a procession honoring an officer who was shot and killed in Arvada, Colorado, Monday.

Colleen Slevin / AP

Update: 10:44 a.m.

Monday, Arvada, Colo., 19, police veteran Gordon Beesley marked another loss for the law enforcement community. Beesley was killed along with two other people during a shootout in a downtown shopping district, the authorities said.

He is the fourth Colorado cop to die at work this year.

The workplace death rate for police is higher this year than it was around the same time in 2020, according to an organization that tracks law enforcement deaths.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports as of June 21, a total of 151 deaths had been recorded – a jump of 11% compared to last year. The number includes the deaths of federal, state, military, tribal and local law enforcement officials.

Most of this increase is due to traffic-related deaths. There have already been 36 officers killed in traffic, up from 25 at this point last year – a 44% increase.

Traffic-related fatalities include collisions with other vehicles, single-vehicle crashes, motorcycle crashes, and incidents in which officers are struck by vehicles.

An increase in road fatalities has also been seen in the general public: road fatalities in the United States increased by 7 percent last year, even as fewer people drove to work during the pandemic.

Traffic is the greatest threat to officers

Car accidents and other traffic incidents pose the greatest threat to police officers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Memorial Fund.

More than 800 officers died as a result of these incidents from 2006 to 2019. This represents 43% of all deaths in the line of duty.

The CDC says behavioral hazards put officers at particular risk for traffic-related injuries or fatalities on the job. These include not wearing a seat belt, accelerating, being distracted while driving on a device, or having tunnel vision due to increased stress.

COVID-19 officer deaths in 2020

Coronavirus infections were the leading cause of death among police officers last year, according to reports. In 2020, a total of 295 officers died, with at least 182 dying of COVID-19, according to the memorial fund.

This marked a 300 percent increase from an unrelated cause of death guns or car accidents, the organization said.

The memorial fund marks “other causes,” which represent illnesses or medical emergencies such as heart attacks or strokes at work, which have resulted in the deaths of 88 police officers so far this year.

From 2010 to 2019, the main cause of death of law enforcement officers in the line of duty was fatal shootings, according to the memorial fund. It is reported that 528 male and female police officers were shot dead during these years.

Why 1930 was the deadliest year

2020 saw the highest number of law enforcement deaths since 1930. That year, 312 officers were killed.

The FBI links much of this to the rise of gangs following the passage of Prohibition in the United States in 1920. Law enforcement agencies were “outmatched” and ill-prepared to undertake massive gang operations. across the country and the rise of the New York Mafia. , according to agency.

“By the early 1930s, towns like St. Paul, Minnesota had become virtual training grounds for young crooks, while Hot Springs, Arkansas had become a haven and even a vacation spot for the underworld.” , said the FBI. “More often than not, local police forces were hampered by a lack of modern tools and training.”

NPR reporter Laurel Wamsley contributed to this report.

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