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52 Law Enforcement Officers Killed in 2003

Most officers killed during traffic stops or pursuits 

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The FBI reports that 52 police officers were feloniously killed in 2003. Forty-six separate incidents in 25 states claimed the lives of these officers. Trend data showed that the number of officers feloniously slain was 4 fewer than in 2002, 10 more than the 42 slain in 1999, and 27 fewer than the 79 officers killed in 1994. Local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement from more than 10,100 agencies submitted data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program about officers who were killed and assaulted.

Circumstances
Of the 52 officers feloniously slain in 2003, 14 were killed during traffic stops or pursuits. Eleven were killed in arrest situations, 10 officers while investigating disturbance calls, 9 in ambush situations, 6 while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, and 2 while transporting or handling prisoners.

Weapons
Offenders used firearms to kill 45 of the victim officers. Of these officers, 34 were slain with handguns, 10 were killed with rifles, and 1 officer was killed with a shotgun. Six officers were intentionally struck by vehicles and 1 officer was beaten to death with a police baton.

Region
An analysis of data by region showed that 28 of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, 13 in the West, 8 in the Midwest, and 3 in the Northeast.

Suspects
A review of the data submitted to the FBI’s UCR Program in 2003 showed that 58 assailants were identified in the 46 separate incidents that claimed the lives of the 52 law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. Of these 58 assailants, 38 were arrested, 12 were justifiably killed by persons other than the victim officer, 6 committed suicide, and 2 of the assailants were justifiably killed by the victim officer.

Accidental Deaths
In addition to the officers feloniously killed, 80 law enforcement officers were reported as accidentally killed in 2003, 4 more than the 76 officers accidentally killed in 2002. Automobile accidents resulted in the accidental deaths of 49 of the officers. Ten officers were killed in motorcycle accidents, 10 were struck by vehicles, 4 officers drowned while performing their official duties, 2 died as a result of accidental shootings, 2 fell to their deaths, 1 officer was struck by a train, 1 officer was electrocuted, and 1 was killed in an aircraft accident.

Assaults
The Nations’ law enforcement agencies reported that 57,841 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2003, and 16,339 officers suffered injuries as a result of these attacks. Assaults on officers were most often committed with personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.), used in 81.0 percent of the attacks. Firearms were used in 3.2 percent of assaults on law enforcement officers, knives or cutting instruments in 1.9 percent, and other dangerous weapons were used in 13.9 percent of assaults on officers.

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