Officer death rate hits nearly 50-year low in 2017

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In 2016, there were more police officer deaths than in the five previous years. However, in 2017, deaths have dropped dramatically.

In 2016, 135 officers died in action, with 64 of them gunned down. In 2017, only 128 officers died in the line of duty, 44 of them being gunned down. The data was released this week by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The largest number of deaths were the result of traffic accidents. Forty-seven officers were killed in crashes this year, down 15% from 2016.

Deaths in 2017 have hit a nearly 58-year low, the only other year with fewer deaths since 1959 being 2013 when 116 officers were killed.

“I think this is one of those good-news, bad-news situations,” said Craig Floyd, president and chief executive of the fund. “On one hand, you had 128 officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, showing the cost of public safety, but for the first time since 2013, the number of deaths has actually declined.”

Reasons for the drop could be attributed to advanced safety gear such as bulletproof vests, better training, better relationships with communities. Another primary factor is President Trump, who has consistently promoted and supported the endeavors of police departments across the nation. Throughout his campaign rallies, he has emphasized positivity and faith within the police system, boosting overall morale within officers and citizens.

“It’s definitely a good sign but if it’s a trend, we’ll have to see,” said Geoffrey P. Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina and a researcher on high-risk police activities. “I think we’re starting to see the impact of all this new training and equipment, and a shift because of the overall concern for officer safety.”

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