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IN THE LINE OF DUTY:
FBI Reports on Law Enforcement Officers Killed in Action in 2002

11/17/03

A graphic for LEOKA, 2002This is one FBI report that every Bureau employee takes personally. It goes to the heart of law enforcement service, and we know sharply that behind each statistic is a family that grieves for a loved one who chose to put his or her life on the line every working day to protect the American people.

In 2002, 133 officers were killed in the line of duty. Among those brave souls were:

  • Missouri State Trooper Kelly Poynter, 27, who was investigating a traffic accident when a speeding and drunken motorist struck and killed him and another innocent bystander. Right before he was hit, Trooper Poynter pushed two members of a tow truck crew out of the way to safety.

  • Chattanooga (Tennessee) Police Officer Julie Jacks, 26, who was shot and killed by a college student she was pursuing who had fled an area hospital while awaiting a mental evaluation.

  • Beaumont (Texas) Police Officer Conrad Gernale, 34, who was intentionally struck and killed by a vehicle while responding to a domestic dispute.

Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted 2002 is the latest in annual series that collects information in order to heighten awareness of particularly risky situations and to help law enforcement officers better protect themselves in similar circumstances.

Under what circumstances were they killed? Fifty six law enforcement officers were feloniously killed while on duty -- by ambush, in traffic pursuits or stops, during arrest situations, responding to disturbance calls, and investigating suspicious situations. Four were slain by mentally deranged assailants. Another 77 officers died in duty-related accidents.

By what means? The majority of the murdered officers -- 51 -- were slain with firearms--handguns, firearms, and shotguns. Four were killed with their own weapons. Another four were struck down by vehicles. One was slain with a knife.

Other danger indicators? In 2002, over 58,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted while on the job. Of these, nearly 16,500 suffered injuries -- from bodily attack, from firearms, and from knives.

The men and women of the FBI wish to salute our colleagues across the country on this grim day when we take official stock of the deaths and injuries that have befallen our ranks in 2002. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives and to those who risk them every day to keep our communities safe.


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