Line-of-duty deaths decline first half of year pending COVID-19 case verifications

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Once COVID-19 Law Enforcement Officer Deaths are officially confirmed, coronavirus could become the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for the first half of 2020, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum’s 2020 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report.

When the Mid-Year Report was released, line-of-duty deaths were 14 percent lower than the same time period in 2019. There were 65 line-of-duty deaths Jan. 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 compared to 76 in the first half of 2019, according to preliminary data reported.

The leading cause of deaths were firearms-related fatalities at 27, followed by traffic-related deaths at 26 and 12 officers who died from other causes, such as job-related illnesses.

While five COVID-19 related deaths were confirmed, another 53 cases are pending. Once confirmed, line-of-duty deaths could skyrocket up to 55 percent higher than mid-year 2019.

RECOGNIZING COVID-19-RELATED DEATHS

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund recognizes that law enforcement officers on the front lines are highly vulnerable to contracting the COVID-19 virus. The Memorial Fund is encouraging law enforcement agencies to submit their officer COVID-19 related deaths so they can be properly recognized on the Memorial. Specific evidence is required to prove the officer’s death was more than likely as a result of a duty-related incident.

Click this link to complete a submission form and for more information. Click here to see some of the Law Enforcement Officers being recognized following their COVID-19 related deaths.

BREAKDOWN OF MID-YEAR 2020 LOD DEATHS

  • Firearms-related deaths declined 4 percent compared to 2019 and include: nine officers who were investigating a suspicious person or activity; five who were attempting to make an arrest; three fatalities occurred while responding to domestic disturbances and three during tactical situations. Other circumstances are detailed in the report.
  • Traffic-related deaths increased 8 percent in the first half of 2020. Nine officers died in crashes involving another vehicle or fixed object; seven fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes; nine were struck and killed outside their vehicles and one law enforcement officer was killed in a motorcycle crash.
  • The same number of officers (12) died of other causes compared to the same time period last year. In addition to the five COVID-19 related deaths, one died in a helicopter crash. Officers also died of heart attacks, strokes and 9/11-related illnesses.
  • Texas lost the most officers (11) in the line of duty for the first half of year, followed by: Five in California; three each in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Six states lost two officers and 14 states had one officer death.

Click here for the complete 2020 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report.