NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Slight Drop In Police Officers Killed

December 30, 1998

While crime rates are falling nationwide, 1998 was almost as deadly for those who enforce the law as the year before.

  • Preliminary statistics reveal that 155 police officers died in the line of duty this year -- a slight reduction from the 160 deaths reported for the previous year.
  • The deadliest year for police officers was 1974, when 269 died on the job.
  • This year, 63 officers were shot to death and 44 were killed in auto accidents -- while others were drowned, struck by vehicles or killed in plane crashes.
  • The on-duty death rate average is about 21 deaths per 100,000 officers.

Experts say that one reason death rates remain static, even while crime overall is diminishing, is that there are more police officers working today. There are 740,000 federal, state and local officers today -- compared to 672,000 in 1992.

Source: Gary Fields, "In 1998, 155 Law Officers Were Killed in Line of Duty," USA Today, December 30, 1998.


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