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Texas leads nationin 2017 officer deaths

By Special to the News-Journal
Dec. 29, 2017 at 10:59 p.m.

A poster photo of San Antonio police Officer Miguel Moreno is placed at a makeshift memorial June 30 in San Antonio. Moreno died after he was  shot by a man he intended to question about a vehicle break-in.

Although the number of U.S. law enforcement professionals who died in the line of duty in 2017 dropped to its lowest level in four years, Texas led the nation in the number of fatalities, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that tracks officer deaths.

The group announced in its 2017 Preliminary Law Enforcement Fatalities Report that 128 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty this year, which is the lowest annual figure since 2013. when 117 officers died.

The 128 officer fatalities in 2017 represents a 10 percent decrease compared with the 143 who died in the line of duty in 2016 and reversed three consecutive years of increases in officer deaths.

Among the states, Texas had the highest number of officer fatalities with 14, followed by New York and Florida with nine each, California with seven and Georgia and North Carolina with six each.

Traffic-related incidents killed 47 officers in 2017, a 13 percent drop compared with the 54 officers killed in such incidents in 2016.

However, there was an increase in the number of officers killed in single-vehicle collisions — 14 compared with 11 in 2016. Single-vehicle crashes accounted for 42 percent of all fatal crashes in 2017.

The number of officers struck and killed while outside of their vehicles decreased 40 percent compared with 2016, with nine in 2017 compared with 15 this past year.

During the past 20 years, traffic-related incidents have been the No. 1 cause of officer fatalities.

Forty-four officers were shot and killed across the country in 2017, which represents a 33 percent reduction compared with 2016, when 66 officers died as a result of gunfire. Seven of these fatalities involved officers responding to a domestic disturbance, the No. 1 circumstance of firearms-related deaths.

Thirty-seven officers died from other causes in 2017. Sixteen of those deaths were attributed to job-related ailments, mostly heart attacks (10). Seven officers died as a result of being beaten. Five drowned while working during hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Four officers died as a result of an illness contracted during the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts. Two officers died in a helicopter crash, while two died in boating accidents and one officer was stabbed to death.

Nine of the fallen officers in 2017 were female, compared with seven in 2016.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Craig W. Floyd said among the reasons for the decline in officer fatalities were better training, improved equipment, a greater emphasis on officer safety and wellness and a strengthening of relationships between law enforcement and the public.

The statistics are based on preliminary data and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2018.

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