COVID-19 was the main cause of death among U.S. law enforcement in 2021 for the second year in a row, according to a preliminary report from the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.
"This year's statistics demonstrate that America's front-line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide," the report reads.
Of the 458 total local, state, tribal, and federal officers who died in the line of duty in 2021, 301 died from COVID-19, a 65% increase from this time last year. That number is anticipated to be higher as the organization gathers additional information as it’s not clear in some cases whether the officer contracted COVID-19 on the job.
"Law enforcement officers nationwide continue to be exposed to the COVID-19 virus in the course of their daily assignments; therefore, the number of line-of-duty deaths is sadly ever-increasing," the report reads.
The highest concentration of deaths happened in California, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Traffic and firearm fatalities also increased in 2021. Firearms were the second-largest cause of death with 61 officers killed, a 36% increase from the previous year.
Fifty-eight officers were killed as a result of traffic-related fatalities, a 38% increase from 2020.
Other officer deaths were attributed to beatings, Sept. 11-related illness and stabbings.
Last fall, more than 460 law enforcement officers died from COVID-19 infections. The last time more than 300 officers were killed before then was in 1930.
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