Michigan Association of Police

Excerpted from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

For the second year in a row, law enforcement line-of-duty fatalities nationwide have significantly declined. In 2023, there was a 39 percent drop in duty deaths compared to the number of deaths the prior year, according to the National Law Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) 2023 End-of-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report.

There were 136 federal, state, county, municipal, military, tribal, and campus officers line-of-duty fatalities in 2023 compared to 224 in 2022, according to the report. Officer deaths have declined substantially since 2021 – the deadliest year on record for law enforcement with 586 line-of-duty deaths.

“There is no such thing as ‘good news’ when reporting even a single officer being killed in the line-of-duty,” said National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Bill Alexander. “Yet we are encouraged to see fewer overall officer deaths across all major categories in 2023. Using and reporting on this data allows us to highlight the continuing dangers faced by our law enforcement professionals, particularly the number of officers who are shot and killed each year.”

Firearms-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer line-of-duty deaths in 2023, following by traffic-related fatalities, however both showed significant declines when compared to 2022. The ‘Other Causes’ category – which includes various causes of death – continued to represent the largest group of officers who died in the line of duty in 2023.

Firearms-related fatalities claimed the lives of 47 officers in 2023 compared to 63 officers in 2022, a 25 percent drop. Of the officers killed by gunfire: nine were attempting arrests; seven were handling domestic disturbance calls; and six were investigating suspicious persons or situations. There were five law enforcement officers killed in each of the following circumstances: ambushes, traffic enforcement and responding to robberies or burglaries in-progress. Two officers were killed while serving warrants, two while investigating disturbance calls, and two each during tactical encounters and other circumstances. One officer died in a training accident and one officer was killed intervening during a crime in progress.

Traffic-related fatalities declined 27 percent from 51 officer deaths in 2022 to 37 in 2023. There were 27 fatal crashes in 2023, which is 25 percent less than the 36 fatal crashes in 2022. Of those 2023 crashes, 23 were automobile crashes and four were motorcycle crashes. There were 33 percent fewer 'struck by' deaths (officers killed while outside of their patrol vehicles) with 10 killed in 2023 compared to 15 in 2022.

‘Other causes’ claimed the lives of 52 law enforcement officers in 2023 including: Covid-19 related deaths; long-term illnesses related to the September 11th terrorist attacks; acute medical conditions brought on by extreme and/or stressful events experienced while on duty; and other rare fatal incidents. Covid-19 related deaths drastically fell again in 2023, with only five deaths reported compared to 74 in 2022. There was a 53 percent overall decrease in ‘Other’ causes when compared to the 110 fatalities in 2022.

Fatal medical events were the leading cause of deaths in the ‘Other Causes’ category at 35 duty deaths in 2023. In addition to the Covid-19 related deaths, other deaths included: three officers who fell to their deaths and two officers in aircraft crashes. One officer died in each of the following circumstances: a falling object; assisting in a fire incident; drowning; being beaten to death; stabbed to death; struck by a train; and one officer was strangled to death.

Michigan had one line-of-duty death and 10 states had no officer duty fatalities. Those with the largest number of officer deaths in 2023 include: New York with 13 line-of-duty deaths; Texas with 11; Louisiana with eight; and California with seven deaths. There were six officer deaths in both Indiana and Tennessee. Other line-of-duty deaths include seven federal officers, three officers serving U.S. Territories; one military officer, and one tribal officer.

The statistics released in the annual report are based on preliminary data compiled by the NLEOMF and may not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2024.

Click here for the complete 2023 End-of-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report.