The FBI is reporting that 59 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed in the line of duty so far this year, a 51% spike compared to the 39 deaths at this time last year.
The 59 officer deaths mean about one officer has been murdered every five days this year, the head of FBI Boston’s division told the Herald on Monday.
The rising assaults on law enforcement officers are both “disturbing” and “alarming,” added Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of FBI Boston.
“There’s been a tremendous uptick in the felonious killings of officers,” he said, later adding, “And not only are the numbers dramatically rising over the last couple of years, the percent of unprovoked attacks has significantly risen.”
These unprovoked attacks, combined with pursuits, tactical situations and ambushes, have been the cause for 74% of the felonious deaths so far this year. In 2020, those four circumstances represented 28% of the deaths.
“It’s a real significant cause of concern for us,” Bonavolonta said.
“The increase of violence against law enforcement officers is alarming,” he added, saying the issue “quite frankly has not received the attention that it really deserves.”
The FBI is also reporting 46 accidental officer deaths so far this year, a 24% increase from the 37 deaths at this time last year.
Of the 46 deaths, 24 fatalities were a result of a motor vehicle crash — and 16 of those vehicle deaths happened while the officer was on patrol.
So far this year, 183 officers have died from the following medical conditions: 169 died in the line of duty from illnesses related to COVID, 12 officers died due to heart attacks, one officer died due to other natural causes, and one officer died from conditions associated with responding to 9/11.
The FBI has also released its annual report on law enforcement officers assaulted in the line of duty. Last year, more than 60,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted while performing their duties. That’s 4,071 more officers assaulted in 2020 than the 56,034 assaults reported in 2019.
Of the 60,105 officers who were assaulted in 2020:
* 18,568 sustained injuries
* 44,421 officers were assaulted with personal weapons (hands, fists or feet); 25.8% of these officers were injured
* 2,744 officers were assaulted with firearms; 6.1% of these officers were injured
* 1,180 officers were assaulted with knives or other cutting instruments; 9.7% of these officers were injured
* The remaining 11,760 officers were assaulted with other types of dangerous weapons; 16.8% of these officers were injured
Of all the officers assaulted in 2020, agencies reported officers were involved in these circumstances:
* Responding to disturbance calls such as family quarrels or bar fights (29.6%)
* Attempting other arrests (16.1%)
* Handling, transporting or maintaining custody of prisoners (12.6%)
* Investigating suspicious persons or circumstances (8.8%)
* Traffic pursuits or stops (8.4%)
* Civil disorder, such as mass disobedience or riots (4.1%)
* Handling persons with mental illness (3.9%)
* Burglaries in progress or pursuing burglary suspects (1.3%)
* Ambush situations (0.8%)
* Robberies in progress or pursuing robbery suspects (0.8%)
* All other types of circumstances (13.6%)