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FBI Reports 57 Police Deaths in '04


LEOKA 2004Just two days into 2004 a police sergeant and an officer in the Athens, Alabama, Police Department responded to a 28-year-old man's 911 emergency calls.

The first officer on the scene was met by rifle-fire as he pulled his squad car into the driveway of the caller, who was under the influence of alcohol and had a history of mental problems. The 40-year-old officer was shot several times in the chest, which was protected by armor, but a bullet wound to his head killed him. Moments later, as his sergeant arrived as backup, the shooter moved to his front porch and began firing again. The 42-year-old sergeant sought cover, but was felled by a fatal barrage of bullets that hit him in the neck and lower back.

These two officers were the first of 57 law enforcement professionals—and our partners—killed in the line of duty last year, according to the our newly released Uniform Crime Report Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2004. In addition to documenting each death, the annual report contains statistical analyses of their particular circumstances—type of emergency call, weapons used, time of day, location—as well as profiles of the officers and their assailants.

The purpose of the data and analysis? In a word, prevention: to provide specific information that can be used to develop strategies and training initiatives that will improve the safety of law enforcement professionals.

The report—based on data submitted by nearly 10,500 local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies—also details assaults on officers and accidental deaths. Last year, 59,373 officers were assaulted on duty; 16,563 of those officers suffered injuries. A total of 82 law enforcement officers suffered accidental deaths in 2004.

The report's state-by-state summaries of the officers' slayings offer a chilling glimpse of the dangers facing law enforcement officers every day:

  • In South Carolina, a 56-year-old officer with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety was ambushed on his own property and shot three times in the back of the head.
  • In Texas, a 33-year-old officer with the Huntington Police Department stopped a motorist for speeding. When the officer learned the motorist was wanted for drug possession, he walked over to take him into custody. The man shot the officer in the face and then again in the back with a 9mm handgun.
  • In Connecticut, a 47-year-old master patrol officer with the Newington Police Department was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call.

All but one of the cases in which officers were killed was cleared by arrest or other means.

As always, we in the FBI grieve at the loss of our partners…and hope countermeasures from this annual accounting will help keep law enforcement professionals out of harm's way in the months ahead.

For the full report, go to our Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted webpage. Also see the national press release.