More police are dying on duty in 2024, report finds

Bill Alexander, CEO of The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Anne Arundel County police Chief Amal Awad look at the names to be added on the memorial. during a ceremony in April 2024. (WTOP/Luke Lukert)

More police are being killed while on duty in 2024 compared to the same time span last year, according to a new report released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

“The conditions for the men and women out there protecting us are increasingly dangerous and every single year, certainly over the last many years, we’ve added hundreds of names to the wall,” said the group’s CEO Bill Alexander.

In total, the number of officers killed in the U.S. in the first half of this year is up 15% compared to the same time last year.

The majority of that increase came from traffic deaths. Those more than doubled — up to 26 from 11 in the first half of 2023.

Nine of those deaths were “struck-by incidents.”

“They were physically struck by a vehicle while they were outside of theirs,” Alexander told WTOP.

Shootings were the most common cause of officer deaths. There were 28 in the first half of the year, an increase of two.

But Alexander said that doesn’t paint the whole picture, saying the circumstances are more dire than that.

“Almost 200 men and women have been shot out there trying to protect us. And the number — the 28 total killed — is really not indicative of how dangerous those conditions are,” he said.

Alexander credits improved body armor, medical advancements and standard-issue tactical emergency kits with preventing many of those shootings from turning into deaths.

In 2023, the National Fraternal Order of Police reported a total of 378 officers were shot, an increase of 60% over just five years prior. Alexander said 2024 is on track to be a similar year.

The shooting statistic does not include officers who died in other violent encounters. Alexander pointed to two officers who were beaten to death and two others who died by stabbing.

“I think I can make a strong argument that the rhetoric, the strong language, the coverage of the law enforcement profession … from popular media, social media, mainstream media and perhaps, I might argue, even to a worrying degree from too many of our elected officials, demonize and place blame on what I still see as my profession,” Alexander said.

He said this influences the public’s behavior by making them feel “incentivized or to some degree justified at perhaps not listening to the police, not following their orders and I think that that is really leading to increasingly dangerous conditions.”

One law enforcement officer in the D.C. area has been killed so far this year. Maryland Parole Agent Davis Martinez, 33, was killed while conducting a routine visit on May 31.

His body was found underneath a bed wrapped in plastic. Prosecutors said Martinez had been stabbed and had wounds to his head, lungs, neck and eye.

Emanuel Edward Sewell, 54, was charged with first-degree murder after his capture a few days later.

Alexander said the names of all 71 officers who died so far in 2024 will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in D.C.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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