Killings of Cops Spiked in 2021

Fatal shootings of police up 36 percent

Portland police on April 20 / Getty Images
January 12, 2022

Police fatalities in the line of duty, including the number of officers killed by gunfire, spiked in 2021, a National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund report found.

Police deaths last year rose to 458, a 55 percent increase from the year before. Eighty-four police officers in 2021 died from "felonious assaults," including 61 officers killed with firearms. The number of firearm deaths is up 36 percent from 2020. 

Nineteen officers were killed in "ambush-style attacks," which the report calls a "significant increase" from only six attacks in 2020.

The leading cause of death for 2021 remains COVID-19, which killed around 301 officers. Other causes include heart attacks, strokes, and 9/11-related illnesses.

The number of officers killed is the highest ever recorded by the memorial fund. The last year to see police deaths over 300 was 1930, which had 312 on-duty fatalities.

The report comes during a difficult time for police. Last year saw a murder wave across the United States, particularly in cities large and small, and lingering anti-police rhetoric and protests. Those same cities have reported dramatic mass resignations of police officers.