According to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 173 officers have been killed during 2011 — up 13 percent from 153 line-of-duty deaths in 2010.The number of gun-related fatalities in 2011 substantially exceeds the average from the 2000s and is slightly higher than the average for the 1990s. Gun-related fatalities among law-enforcement officers are down though from the very high levels recorded in the 1980s and 1970s.
For the first time in 14 years, more officers died from firearms-related incidents than traffic-related incidents. Sixty-eight officers were shot and killed in 2011, up 15 percent from 2010 when 59 officers died from gunfire. The number of officers killed by firearms has now risen during each of the past three years.
The statistics are a grim reminder that a society awash in guns poses deadly risks even to those who are armed, well-trained, and often wearing protective vests.