In 2015, 124 law enforcement officials were killed in the line of duty, according to a National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) report.
“Nine of the fallen officers were female, more than double the four killed in 2014,” the report noted. “The average officer was 41 years old, with 12 years of service. The average number of children left behind by an officer was two.”
Fifty-two officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, with 42 dying in gun-related events and 30 in other circumstances.
Texas had the most officer deaths (12), followed by Georgia and Louisiana (11 each), and New York and California (six each). Thirty-three states had at least one officer killed in the line of duty.
“Handguns were the leading type of firearm used in fatal shootings of law enforcement officers this year,” the report noted. “Of the 42 firearms-related fatalities, 77 percent, or 30 officers, were shot and killed with a handgun.”
NLEOMF highlighted the deaths of three officers. Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate – both with the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Police Department – were shot during a traffic stop, and Officer Kerrie Orozco – with the Omaha, Nebraska, Police Department – was shot while serving an arrest warrant.
Orozco was featured in an NBC News article written by Ari Melber and Safia Samee Ali, which featured interviews with family, friends and colleagues of several officers killed in 2015.
The 29-year-old, seven-year veteran was shot to death in a firefight that erupted when police were serving a felony arrest warrant.
She was hours away from maternity leave, taking time off to care for her infant daughter who was about to be released from the hospital after three months in the NICU.
Positive stories of officers killed in the line of duty were shared in the article with an acknowledgement of the significant amount of negative press surrounding officer misconduct.
Melber, MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, spoke about the article and the state of policing on Morning Joe.
“We analyzed the larger state of policing in this report,” he explained. “There are 698,000 law enforcement officers … [who] have contact with 62 million people in a given year. … If you look at the annual allegations of misconduct … In 2010, that was allegations against 6,613 officers.”
Melber continued, “So, if you look at this altogether in our report what you find is that 99.1 percent of officers … in a given year are not accused of any misconduct whatsoever. This gives you a little window into the state of policing.”
“Day-to-day officers are not firing their weapons, and they are not accused of any misconduct and … they are also performing acts of incredible heroism,” he added. “What I heard from some [families], including some in minority communities is that there are two sides to this story, but most officers are honest and brave.”
The full NLEOMF report is available here.