Home News Stories 2009 October 41 Officers Feloniously Killed in 2008

41 Officers Feloniously Killed in 2008

In the Line of Duty
41 Officers Feloniously Killed in 2008


leoka.jpg“A special agent with the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office was shot and killed at 6 a.m. on November 19 while attempting to serve an arrest warrant at a residence in Indiana Township in Pennsylvania.”

The narrative describing the death last year of Special Agent Samuel Hicks is among the 41 chilling summaries of law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2008. The figure, found in the 2008 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, represents a significant decline from 2007, when 58 officers were feloniously killed—indeed, it’s the lowest in at least 10 years. But tempering the positive data are profiles of the circumstances that led to the deaths of 37 male and four female police officers and federal agents last year.

The annual report contains an array of data and charts on how many officers were killed and assaulted, weapons used, time of day, region of the country, even profiles of the alleged known assailants, among other things. The information, while providing a snapshot to the public of the dangers and sacrifices made by law enforcement officers, helps agencies better understand the criminal threat and tailor their training to meet it.

Here’s a look at some of the data on feloniously killed officers:

  • Line-of-duty deaths occurred in 19 states;
  • The average age of officers feloniously killed was 39 years, and the average length of service was 10 years;
  • 35 were killed with firearms, and 29 of them, including Special Agent Hicks, were wearing body armor when they were fatally shot;
  • The average age of the alleged offenders was 32; and
  • 36 of the 42 alleged offenders had prior criminal arrests.

Additionally, the report details assaults on officers and the circumstances of accidental deaths on the job each year. Here’s a glance at the data:

  • 58,792 officers were assaulted in the line of duty, while 26.1 percent of them sustained injuries;
  • 32 percent of assaults occurred responding to domestic disturbance calls, and 15 percent were during arrests; and
  • Accidental deaths claimed 68 officers in 25 states, 39 died as a result of auto accidents.

Officers who were feloniously killed represent a cross-section of the nation: men and women, black, white, and American Indian, in 19 states. They died during traffic pursuits and arrests, tactical situations, surveillance, ambushes, and domestic disturbance calls. The report’s victim profiles provide an important glimpse at the dangerous situations law enforcement officers face daily—a felony traffic stop in Arizona, a burglary in South Carolina, a midnight arrest in Michigan, an arrest warrant in Indiana Township, Pennslyvania.

Behind each of the report’s data points are neighbors, friends, mothers and fathers who chose law enforcement ostensibly to make a difference. And in doing that they made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

In Agent Hicks’ case, the Baltimore police officer-turned FBI agent was working with local police in Pennsylvania serving a warrant. A woman in the house under the influence of drugs fired a single shot, which hit Hicks in the chest above his bulletproof vest, mortally wounding him.

The raw factors in the case are reflected in the report’s data. What is not is that he left behind a wife and son. At his funeral last December, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller reflected on the loss, which could be said for many of the officers killed in 2008.

“Today, we weep for Sam’s family, which has lost a cherished husband, a devoted father, a loving son, brother, uncle, and grandson,” Mueller said. “And we weep for our nation, which has lost one of its bravest protectors.”

- Criminal Justice Information Services