October 19, 2009

FBI Releases 2008 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted

WASHINGTON D.C.--According to information released October 19 by the FBI, 41 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty last year; 68 officers died in accidents while performing their duties; and 58,792 officers were assaulted while on duty.

The 2008 edition of "Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted" released October 19 provides comprehensive tabular data about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks.

Felonious Deaths

FBI Releases 2008 Statistics

The 41 felonious line-of-duty deaths took place during 38 separate incidents. All 38 incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means. The felonious deaths occurred in 19 states. The number of officers feloniously killed in 2008 decreased by 17 compared with the 2007 figure (58 officers). The 5- and 10-year comparisons also showed decreases in the number of felonious deaths, down 16 from the 2004 number (57 officers) and a decrease of 1 from the 1999 total (42 officers).

Officer Profiles: Among the officers who were feloniously killed, the average age was 39 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 10 years at the time of the fatal incidents. Thirty-seven of the victim officers were male and four were female. Thirty of the officers were white, nine were black, and one was American Indian/Alaskan Native. Race information was not reported for one of the victims.

Circumstances: Of the 41 officers feloniously killed, nine of the slain officers were involved in arrest situations; eight were performing traffic stops; seven were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances; seven were involved in tactical situations (e.g., high-risk entry); six were ambushed; two were performing investigative duties; one was handling, transporting, or maintaining custody of a prisoner; and one was answering a disturbance call.

Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 35 of the 41 victim officers. Of these 35 officers, 25 were slain with handguns, six with rifles, and four with shotguns. Four officers were killed with vehicles that were used as weapons, and 2 officers died from injuries as a result of a bomb.

Region: 20 of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, nine in the West, nine in the Midwest, and three in the Northeast.

Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 42 alleged assailants in connection with the 41 felonious line-of-duty deaths. Thirty-six of the assailants had prior criminal records, and 11 of the assailants were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents. Five of the offenders had received a juvenile conviction on a prior criminal charge.

Accidental Deaths

Of the 68 law enforcement officers killed in accidents while performing their duties in 2008, the majority of officers accidentally killed (39 officers) were the result of automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths was down 15 from the 2007 total (83 officers) and 14 less than the 2004 total (82 officers). However, a 10-year comparison showed that three more officers were accidentally killed in 2008 than in 1999, when 65 officers died in accidents.


In 2008, 10,110 law enforcement agencies reported that 58,792 officers were assaulted while performing their duties. Of the officers assaulted in 2008, 26.1 percent were injured. The largest percentage of victim officers (32.0) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls (family quarrels, bar fights, etc.). Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 80.7 percent of the incidents, firearms in 3.8 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments were used in 1.6 percent of the incidents. Other types of weapons were used in 13.9 percent of assaults.

"Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2008" is available exclusively on the FBI’s Web site at www.FBI.gov. Printed copies of the publication are no longer available.

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Comments (12)

When one considers the number of LEO's there are nationwide, I can only assume that being a roofer, logger, or construction worker is far more dangerous. I'm sure technology helps but the real reason less Leo's are dying might be better training. We all know there's more shooters out there. Hats off to the officers.
Keep up the good work. Us law abiding second amendment folks are some of your best allies.Semper Fi

Posted by: Sharps | October 30, 2009 9:19 PM    Report this comment

There is a link at the top of this page that takes you to the FBI web where you can access the report. It is broken down by state, with a summary of each incident provided.

What I looked at may only be slightly helpful in a CCW comparison. For instance PA is "shall issue" with the county sheriff reviewing your application. Outside Philadelphia, I got mine with no problems, and armed citizens are subtly present in many public places. Now if I want to go into Philly, it's a whole 'nother story. 2 of 3 PA cops were killed in Philly, the other was Pittsburgh. The gang bangers may prefer to stay near their infrastructure. On the other hand, I see quite a few crotch rocket cruises well out of the city. The cruises seem to be just that, although they may be reconnoitering while having fun.

I would say that at first blush, the stats report an inverse correlation between permits issued and gun violence.

I would like to see one of those blue & red political maps, with subgroups of ccw rates, and the location of felonious murder.

Posted by: PVB | October 24, 2009 9:29 PM    Report this comment

It didn't mention which states were involved. That is, did the deaths and assaults occur in states with concealed carry laws, or in states with heavy gun laws? That is one thing they usually don't want to advertise.

Posted by: dgray64 | October 24, 2009 3:47 PM    Report this comment

The expression "Politics makes strange bedfellows" was coined over just such situations, Tim & Canovack. That's why wise men do what's right, rather than worry about what politicians claim is "legal," even though there can very well be consequences for civil disobedience.


Posted by: Lee W | October 22, 2009 11:19 PM    Report this comment

I sympathize with your position, Tim C. We all should recognize that, in general, the rank and file police officers are supportive of our Second Amendment rights. It is when the cops stop being cops and become administrators that their opinions tend to wander into the anti-Second Amendment camp, because their success or failure may depend on the funds that they can steer into the police department.....and those funds are frequently distributed by politicians.

Posted by: canovack | October 22, 2009 4:04 PM    Report this comment

As a 34 year Law EWnf. Officer, I can't agree with you more, Canovak. However, the Liberal Chiefs of Police have actually SUPPRESSED the armed citizen during the bulk of my career. I believe it is because of their non-think bosses (Mayors, Govs,County Commisioners) some Conservative as well as Liberal who think armed citizens are auto-thugs. We as Law Enf cannot protect you. We have become re-active, not pro-active and I've no idea how we'll climb out of this with the current political climate.

Posted by: Tim C | October 22, 2009 12:54 PM    Report this comment

All of our first responders, be they police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, or whatever, are most deserving of our admiration and support. Keep in mind, however, that the mission of our police departments is NOT to be perenially omnipresent to prevent crime, but rather to investigate and facilitate the disposition of the criminals. That said, I believe the role of the armed citizen is one of direct support of our police departments. Remembering that an armed society is a more polite society than one that is unarmed, we can see that the more armed, law abiding citizens we have on the streets, the less violent crimes are likely to be perpetrated.....resulting in a reduction in the law enforcement workload. So, my brethren,
even the left-wing liberals should be able to understand this particular rationale for concealed carry of handguns.....but, well, you know how the liberal mind works. Recognizing cause and effect relationships is usually beyond the capability of the liberal mind.

Posted by: canovack | October 22, 2009 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Exceptional means there was no prosecution (here anyway). Either they were killed, committed suicide, were found mentally ill, or were identified but not prosecuted (lack of evidence, etc.)

Posted by: DAVID E | October 22, 2009 9:59 AM    Report this comment

That's about it PVB. The "exceptional means" in this context means the perps are converted to Christianity (dead). In other contexts when you see this in an FBI or Police Stat report it means, "we're tired of carrying this bad stat so we closed the case administratively". The case can later be opened if need be, but it is closed to show higher clearance rates, and therefore rise in eligibility for Govmint grants.

Posted by: Tim C | October 22, 2009 9:59 AM    Report this comment

Gav -

I suspect "exceptional means" is a more palatable way of couching that the suspects were "dispatched" to go meet their maker.

Posted by: PVB | October 22, 2009 8:14 AM    Report this comment

Would this be how cops handle cop killers? Anytime less officers are killed in the line of duty is good news. Hopefully the downward trend will continue. To all those Police Officers out there: Thanks for putting your life on the line everyday to protect us. We always support our military guys, however LEO's are in the trenches everyday too. Bagdad might be safer to patrol than Detroit or Chicago.

Posted by: Robert J | October 20, 2009 7:31 AM    Report this comment

"All 38 incidents have been cleared by arrest or exceptional means.

I don't know what exceptional means are. Anybody able to translate this jargon into English?


Posted by: Lee W | October 19, 2009 5:29 PM    Report this comment

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