This section includes data regarding the accidental deaths of duly sworn local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement officers meeting the same criteria as the officers who were feloniously killed: at the time of these incidents, the officers were working in an official capacity, they had full arrest powers, they were wearing a badge (ordinarily), they were carrying a firearm (ordinarily), and they were being paid from government funds set aside specifically for payment of sworn law enforcement representatives. In addition, the officers’ deaths must have been directly related to the injuries received from the incident.
According to 2004 data supplied by the Nation’s law enforcement agencies, 82 law enforcement officers were killed in 80 separate accidents while performing their duties. These deaths were reported by law enforcement agencies in 26 states and Puerto Rico. (See Table 46.) Thirty-five of the officers who died as the result of accidents were employed by city police departments, 29 of the officers were employed by county police and sheriff’s offices, 9 officers worked for state agencies, 6 were employed by federal agencies, and 3 worked in agencies in Puerto Rico. (See Table 47.)
Two-, 5-, and 10-year comparisons of the data with those of 2004 yielded some interesting results. The number of officers accidentally killed remained relatively constant in the 2- and 5-year trends: 82 officers in 2004, 81 officers in 2003, and 83 in 2000. However, the 10-year trend showed a dramatic increase in the number of officers accidentally killed: from 59 officers in 1995 to 82 officers in 2004. (See Table 46.)
An examination of the age, sex, and race data on the 82 law enforcement officers accidentally killed in 2004 presented an interesting profile of the victims. The average age of the officers was 39. A breakdown of the age data revealed that 2 officers were under the age of 25, 19 officers were 25 to 30 years old, 28 officers were in the age range of 31 to 40, and 33 were over age 40. (See Table 51.) By gender, 76 officers were male and 6 were female. By race, 75 of the officers accidentally killed were white, 5 were black, and 2 were Asian/Pacific Islander. (See Table 56.)
Further analysis of the 2004 data showed that officers accidentally killed averaged 11 years of law enforcement experience. Four officers had less than 1 year of law enforcement experience, 22 officers had 1 to 4 years of experience, 24 had from 5 to 10 years of experience, and 32 of the officers had over 10 years of law enforcement experience. (See Table 52.)
Typically, more officers lose their lives in automobile accidents than in any other type of circumstance surrounding accidental deaths. This trend continued in 2004 as 48 of the 82 officers accidentally killed died in automobile wrecks. For the second year in a row, 10 officers were killed in motorcycle mishaps, and 10 officers were killed when they were struck by vehicles. In addition, 4 officers were mistakenly shot, 3 died in aircraft accidents, 3 drowned, 1 officer fell to his death, and 3 were killed in other situations. (See Table 59.)
In the 10-year period 1995 through 2004, 717 law enforcement officers died from accidents occurring in the line of duty. Of these officers, 404 were killed in automobile mishaps, 120 were killed after they were struck by vehicles, 60 were killed in motorcycle accidents, and 43 lost their lives in aircraft accidents. In addition, 28 of the officers were mistakenly shot, 21 drowned, 20 died from falls, and 21 of the officers lost their lives in other situations. (See on Table 59.)
When compiling the Nation’s crime data geographically, the UCR Program divides the United States into four regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West. Regionally, 39 of the officers killed in accidents occurring in the line of duty in 2004 were employed by law enforcement agencies in the South, 15 were employed by agencies in the West, 15 were employed by agencies in the Midwest, and 10 victim officers were employed by agencies in the Northeast. Three officers were killed in accidents in Puerto Rico.
An examination of 10 years of data (1995–2004) by region revealed that of the 717 officers who were accidentally killed during that period, 344 officers worked for agencies in the South, 156 were employed by agencies in the West, 119 worked in the Midwest, 75 were employed by agencies in the Northeast, and 23 worked in U.S. Territories. (See Table 46.)
A review of the 2004 data by month showed that of the 82 officers accidentally killed, most, 14, died as a result of accidents that occurred in July and the fewest, 2, in November. However, data from 1995–2004 showed that of the total number, more officers, 76, were involved in fatal accidents in October than in any other month. The fewest number of deaths, 40, was the result of accidents that occurred in March. (See Table 50.)
A breakdown of the 2004 data by day of the week showed that more officers, 15, were victims of fatal accidents on Sunday than on any other day of the week. The fewest number of officers, 8, died from injuries sustained in accidents that happened on Wednesday. However, data for the last 10 years (1995–2004) revealed Wednesday and Friday to be the most dangerous for officers with a total of 110 accidental deaths occurring on each of these days. Although the number of officers killed in fatal accidents in 2004 was highest on Sunday, data from 1995–2004 showed that the fewest number, 88, was killed on Sunday. (See Table 49.)
For each instance in which officers died in accidents in 2004, law enforcement agencies reported the time that the fatal incident occurred. An examination of the data showed that the greatest number of officers, 22, was involved in fatal incidents within the hours of 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. The fewest number of accidental deaths of law enforcement officers, 6, occurred from 4: 01 a.m. to 8 a.m. (See Table 48.)
This held true for the decade as well. Data from 1995–2004 showed that more officers (155) were killed in accidents that occurred from 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. than in any other time span during the day. Conversely, the fewest number of officers, 81, were killed in incidents that occurred within the hours of 4:01 a.m. to 8 a.m. The times of the fatal accidents for 13 of the victim officers were not known. (See Table 48.)