Four percent more law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year than last, says a preliminary report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Despite high-profile shootings of police in 2015, the group says more officers died in traffic-related events (52) than from gunfire (42), NPR reports. The number of police officers killed by gunfire fell 14 percent from the 49 who were shot and killed in 2014. Seven shootings followed traffic stops; six were surprise attacks on officers.
This year’s data are in rough proportion to annual reports from the fund, which says that in 15 of the past 20 years, traffic-related incidents have been the leading cause of death for officers killed in the line of duty. Fund CEO Craig Floyd says that while police agencies are trying to work around tight budgets to train officers on driving at high speeds, the public can also help. “Move over and slow down when you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the roadway,” he says. Eleven officers this year were struck and killed by motorists who did not slow down or move over. Since hitting a peak in the early 1970s with 280 deaths, the number of officer fatalities in the U.S. has been falling. Of the gunfire that killed officers in 2015, the fund says the 42 deaths “are 26 percent lower than the average of 57 per year for the decade spanning 2000-2009.”