The number of U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty last year nearly doubled from 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a report on Monday.
The FBI said of 51 officers slain in 2014, 46 were shot; four were killed by vehicles; and one was beaten to death. Twenty-seven officers were killed in 2013, the lowest number during a 35-year period.
Another 44 officers were accidentally killed in the line of duty last year, most in automobile accidents. Others were killed in motorcycle accidents, accidental shootings, by drowning, blunt force trauma and smoke inhalation. Forty-nine were accidentally killed in 2013, the FBI said.
The report was released days after the burial of a New York City police officer who was shot dead while on duty. Two officers were killed over the weekend in Mississippi.
In 2014, most of the officers died as the result of criminal acts committed in Southern states, where 17 officers were killed, and Western states, where 14 were killed. States in the Midwest and Northeast accounted for eight slayings each and Puerto Rico had four, the report said.
An average of 64 law enforcement officers per year were intentionally killed on duty between 1980 and 2014, according to the FBI.
There is heightened awareness in the United States of police deaths in the line of duty and incidents in which civilians have died during and after encounters with police. There is intense controversy over the use of deadly force by U.S. law enforcement officers.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department said it was investigating the Baltimore police department’s use of force after a 25-year-old man died after being injured in police custody.