Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty Statistics for 2021
According to statistics reported to the FBI, 129 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2021. Of these, 73 died as a result of felonious acts and 56 in accidents.
Comprehensive data tables about these events and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks are available on the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) portion of the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer at https://crime-data-explorer.app.cloud.gov/pages/le/leoka.
Seventy-three officers were feloniously killed in 2021, an increase of 27 when compared to the 46 killed in 2020. The felonious deaths in 2021 occurred in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Five- and 10-year comparisons show an increase of 27 felonious deaths when compared with the 2017 figure (46 officers) and 25 when compared with 2012 data (48 officers).
The average age of officers feloniously killed was 39 years old. Victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years at the times of the fatal incidents.
Of the 73 officers:
- 68 were male.
- 5 were female.
- 60 were White.
- 9 were Black/African American.
- 4 had no reported race.
Circumstances Encountered by Victim Officer Upon Arrival at Scene
Of the 73 officers feloniously killed:
- 24 were killed in unprovoked attacks.
- 9 died as a result of investigative/enforcement activities (e.g., surveillance, traffic violation stops, active shooter responses, undercover situations, wanted person investigations).
- 8 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation).
- 8 were involved in vehicular or foot pursuits.
- 7 responded to disorders/disturbances (e.g., disorderly subjects, fights, domestic disturbances/violence).
- 6 were involved in tactical situations (e.g., barricade/hostage situations, arrest warrants).
- 4 were involved in arrest situations (e.g., giving verbal warnings, maintaining custody of a prisoner).
- 2 responded to crimes in progress (e.g., active shooters, assaults).
- 1 was assisting other law enforcement officers.
- 1 was serving or attempting to serve a court order (e.g., eviction notice, subpoena).
- 1 was out of service (e.g., appearing in court, dining).
- 1 was responding to a report of crime.
- 1 was providing or deploying equipment (e.g., flares, traffic cones).
Offenders used firearms to kill 61 of the 73 victim officers. Six officers were killed by vehicles used as weapons, and 4 by the offender’s use of personal weapons (e.g., hand, fists, feet).
Of the 61 officers killed by firearms:
- 15 were slain with handguns.
- 11 were shot by rifles.
- 2 died from shotguns.
- 33 were shot with firearms in which the types of firearms were unknown or not reported.
Felonious deaths were reported in three of the four U.S. regions and Puerto Rico.
- 44 officers were feloniously killed in the South.
- 13 died in the West.
- 12 were killed in the Midwest.
- None died in the Northeast.
- 4 were killed in Puerto Rico.
Law enforcement agencies identified 66 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths.
- 20 had prior criminal arrests.
- 9 were under judicial supervision at the times of the incidents.
Fifty-six law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2021, an increase of 10 when compared with the 46 officers in 2020. Most (32 officers) died in motor vehicle crashes.
The average age of the officers was 40 years old; they had served an average of 12 years in law enforcement.
Of the 56 officers accidentally killed:
- 52 were male.
- 4 were female.
- 46 were White.
- 7 were Black/African American.
- 1 was Asian.
- 2 had no reported race.
The 56 officers died in a variety of scenarios.
- 32 were as a result of motor vehicle, ATV, or motorcycle crashes.
- 20 were pedestrian officers struck by vehicles.
- 4 officers drowned.
Use of Seat Belts
Of the 30 officers killed in motor vehicle crashes (not including ATVs and motorcycles), 7 were wearing seat belts, and 5 were not. Data about seat belt usage was not reported for 18 of the officers.
Accidental deaths were reported in all four U.S. regions and Puerto Rico.
- 26 occurred in the South.
- 13 took place in the West.
- 9 happened in the Midwest.
- 7 occurred in the Northeast.
- 1 took place in Puerto Rico.
Submitted by Tara A. Perine and Janine T. Arnold, writer-editors in the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.