Line-of-duty deaths of U.S. law enforcement officers are on the rise again, according to mid-year figures released today by the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP).
Sixty-eight officers died in the line of duty during the first six months of 2000, according to preliminary figures, while the final death toll for the first half of 1999 was 61.
The seven additional deaths represent an 11.5 percent increase over a year earlier.
"While there was much hope that the decline in deaths in 1999 was part of a downward trend, the first-half figures would indicate that, tragically, the many hazards of law enforcement are taking a rising toll on officers," said Dennis Ray Martin, NACOP public information officer.
Final figures for 1999 show 126 line-of-duty deaths, down from 162 in 1998 and 161 in 1997.
Preliminary reports for 1999 indicated 108 officer fatalities, which would have been the lowest total since 103 officers died in 1965; however, late reports of additional deaths increased the final count.
Among the 68 line-of-duty deaths in the first half of this year, 31 were in traffic accidents, 24 were in shootings, five were in aircraft accidents, two were in drownings, one was a result of a heart attack and one was the result of a stabbing.
The first-half 2000 count also included four deaths categorized as "miscellaneous," with officers falling from a horse, a bicycle, a catwalk, as well as one up on whom a utility pole fell at an accident.
Eight of the first-half 2000 officer deaths were in California, while seven were in Georgia.
by Virginia Sutcliffe