A total of 140 law enforcement officers were killed in 2016 in line of duty deaths. The number of deaths increased by 10 over 2015’s 130 officers who were killed.
The final death of the year came Friday night when Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Landon Weaver was shot and killed while investigating an alleged violation of a protective order. Jason Robinson, 32, allegedly grabbed a gun during the investigation and shot Trooper Weaver, killing him. Robinson fled the scene and was later found after an overnight manhunt. He threatened officers and was shot and killed.
Death by gunfire was, once again, the leading cause of death for officers who were killed on duty. A total of 64 officers were killed by gunfire – up from 39 in 2015, according to statistics obtained by Breitbart Texas from the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). This represents an increase of over 60 percent over the prior year.
“The 61 percent increase in law enforcement officers shot and killed in 2016 versus 2015 and a 53 percent overall increase in officers murdered in the performance of duty are deeply troubling statistics,” ODMP Director of Research Steven Weiss told Breitbart Texas. “Included in that statistic is a disturbing increase in officers killed in ‘ambush-style’ murders, such as the incidents in Dallas and Des Moines.”
“These types of murders are particularly disconcerting because they are not born out of a criminal’s desire to avoid arrest, but out of a hatred for not only law enforcement, but for our society as a whole,” Weiss explained. “It is the type of attack that, for the most part, tactical training or increased vigilance may not help to prevent.”
Weiss told Breitbart Texas the “ambush style” murders of police officers have been increasing since 2012.
“When a person is willing to plan and then put into action that plan to assassinate a person for no other reason than the person is a law enforcement officer,” Weiss stated, “it is hard to draw any conclusion other than it is an attack against the American way of life. Many times the men or women in uniform represents the face of our government, since an interaction with a law enforcement officer may be the extent of most citizen’s direct contact with government during their lifetime.”
In addition to gunfire, 12 officers were killed by vehicular assault, one officer was stabbed, and three were killed in other types of assaults.
Officers gave their lives in service to the public in 34 of our 50 states. Additionally, law enforcement officers with the federal government, Indian tribal police, and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico also lost their lives while serving their departments. Texas led the nation with the deaths of 19 police officers. California was a distant second with 11 officers being killed. Each of the other states were listed with single digit numbers of officers killed while on duty. Vehicle accidents and a heart attack took the lives of three U.S. Border Patrol agents.
This was the second year in a row that Texas peace officers led the nation in line of duty deaths.
Automobile accidents were the second leading cause of death for law enforcement officers across the country. Automobile accidents accounted for 23 deaths while motorcycle accidents added seven more. Four officers were killed during pursuits with suspects and twelve officers were killed after being struck by automobiles alongside the roadway. One officer was killed in an aircraft crash and one was struck by a train.
Other causes of death included drownings (2), animal related (1), duty-related illness (1), falling (1), accidental gunfire (2), heart attack (6), and illness related to 9/11 (3).
Of the 140 deaths recorded, 134 were men and 6 were women.
In addition to the 140 human officers killed in the line of duty, 34 K9 officers also lost their lives in the line of duty. Heat exhaustion led the causes of death with 12 K9 officers being killed by heat related issues. An additional ten K9 officers were killed by hostile gunfire and two K9s were killed by accidental gunfire.
Weiss said these numbers are about more than statistics. “Each of those deaths represents the loss of a person that dedicated their life to service, to the pursuit of justice, and to keeping their community safe,” he said. “The loss of an officer is something that effects an entire family, many time for generations. Spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings and extended family are all impacted. And the impact many times can have a profound effect on the community the officer served.”
“Thankfully, the law enforcement community is brotherhood like no other and those LOD families, like their loved ones, are never forgotten,” Weiss concluded. “They are supported by their agency and their communities for a lifetime. Agencies and charities ensure their children are able to afford higher-education, that families can stay in their homes and that children that lost a parent always have a father or mother figure to speak with and be there for them when they need it.”
Author’s note: All statistics in this article were compiled from the Officer Down Memorial Page. A complete listing of the officers killed in the line of duty can be found on their website.