In 2021, a record number of law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. On Peace Officers Memorial Day and during Police Week, the public is encouraged to express our gratitude for these selfless public servants who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty.
On Friday, May 13 the Macon/Jackson FOP held its annual Peace Officer Memorial Program to honor the men and women who lost their lives during the previous year — paying special tribute to the 25 officers from North Carolina.
North Carolina ranked 6th in the country for most line-of-duty deaths for 2021 behind California with 33, Florida with 55, Georgia with 51, New York with 28, and Texas with 107.
By a joint resolution approved October 1, 1962, as amended (76 Stat. 676), and by Public Law 103-322, as amended (36 U.S.C. 136-137), the President has been authorized and requested to designate May 15 of each year as “Peace Officers Memorial Day” and the week in which it falls as “Police Week.”
According to preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), as of December 31, 2021, 458 federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers died in the line-of-duty in 2021. This is an increase of 55% from the 295 officers killed during the same period last year, and is the highest total line-of-duty officer deaths since 1930 when there were 312 fatalities.
In 2021, 84 officers died from felonious assaults including 61 officers who were killed by firearms 11 officers killed in struck-by traffic incidents, and 3 killed in auto crashes where the subject was either fleeing the police or an intoxicated driver was involved. In addition, 4 officers were beaten to death, 2 died from 9/11-related illnesses, and 3 officers were stabbed. The 61 officers killed feloniously by firearms represents a 36% increase over the 45 officers killed feloniously by firearms in 2020.
The leading circumstance of firearms fatalities were officers killed in ambush-style attacks. A total of 19 officers were killed in ambush attacks in 2021, a significant increase over only 6 such attacks in 2020.
The 25 officers who died in North Carolina included the following line-of-duty death causes:
2 automobile crash
18 Covid 19
1 Vehicular assault
1 Heart Attack
During Friday’s ceremony, all 25 names of North Carolina residents who died in 2021 were read aloud along with their End of Watch to honor their memory. For a full list of their names, visit here.