CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — On average, one local, state or federal law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty every 54 hours in the United States last year. At that rate, 162 officers died. It doesn't seem that 2011 will be any safer. By midday Monday, 14 law enforcement officers had been killed on duty this year. Clearly, it is dangerous work: 10 officers were shot — two died — in four different states in a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday.
That's always been the case. More than 19,000 law enforcement officers are thought to have perished in the line of duty in the United States. The earliest known fatality occurred in 1792, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group. The numbers have waxed and waned over the decades, but the recent trend is up, though deaths declined in the two years prior to 2010.