WASHINGTON The number of law enforcement officers who died performing their duties in the U.S. declined by about 20 percent in 2012 after rising the two previous years, a nonprofit organization reported Thursday.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said in a report that 127 federal, state and local officers have died so far from injuries suffered on the job. The majority of officers who died were either shot or were victims of traffic accidents, figures show.
City and county police officers constituted most of the victims, but the list also includes a prison guard in Indiana who suffered a heart attack while responding to an unruly inmate, a deputy sheriff in Missouri who was fatally shot while responding to an emergency call about an unconscious person and a Coast Guard officer killed off the California coast while pursuing a vessel suspected of smuggling drugs.
The toll is on pace to be the lowest since 2009, when 122 officers died, and this year would be only the second year since 1960 that the number of fatalities has dipped below 130.
The organization, which also maintains a memorial wall in Washington bearing the names of fallen officers, reported 165 deaths last year and 154 in 2010. The number of deaths topped 200 for most of the 1970s.