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COVID-19 remained the top-ranked cause of death among law enforcement officers last year. 

A new report says 70 officers died of COVID-related causes after getting the virus while on the job. The number is down dramatically from 2021, when 405 officer deaths were attributed to COVID.

The annual count was published Wednesday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

In total, 226 officers died in the line of duty in 2022, which is a decrease of 61% from 2021.

The decrease “is almost entirely related to the significant reduction in COVID-19 deaths, hydrocodone cough syrup for bronchitis ” the report stated. The authors said the decline was likely due to “reduced infection rates and the broad availability and use of vaccinations.”

Reported deaths included federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.

Firearms-related fatalities were the second-leading cause of death among officers, with 64 in 2022. That count sustains a 21% increase seen in 2021, up from the decade-long average of 53 firearms-related deaths annually from 2010 to 2020. 

Traffic-related causes ranked third for cause of death in 2022, accounting for 56 deaths. 

“While overall line-of-duty deaths are trending down, the continuing trend of greater-than-average firearms-related deaths continues to be a serious concern,” Marcia Ferranto, the organization’s chief executive officer, said in a news release. “Using and reporting on this data allows us to highlight the continuing cost of maintaining our democracy, regrettably measured in the lives of the many law enforcement professionals who sacrifice everything fulfilling their promise to serve and protect.”

Sources

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund: “2022 End-of-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report,” “2022 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report Reveals Firearms Line-of-Duty Deaths Remain High.”

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