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FBI: 51 Law Enforcement Officers 'Feloniously Killed' In 2014

After a sharp drop in 2013, the number of police and other law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty as a result of felonious incidents rose in 2014, from 27 to 51, according to preliminary statistics gathered by the FBI. The agency says another 44 officers died in accidents while on the job.

"From 1980–2014, an average of 64 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed per year," the FBI says in a news release. "The 2013 total, 27, was the lowest during this 35-year period.

Those officers had been performing a range of duties; the FBI says 11 died after responding to disturbance calls, including one domestic disturbance, and that 10 died during traffic pursuits or stops. Eight officers had been ambushed, the agency says, describing scenarios from entrapment or premeditated situations to unprovoked attacks.

"Offenders used firearms in 46 of the 51 felonious deaths," the FBI says, adding that the number reflects the use of handguns in 32 incidents, rifles in 11, and shotguns in three.

The FBI says 17 officers died from criminal actions in the South, 14 in the West, eight in both the Midwest and the Northeast, and four in Puerto Rico.

Here's a brief rundown of the number of officers who were feloniously killed in recent years, along with the number who were employed by city police:

2009: 48 (32 employed by city police)
2010: 56 (32)
2011: 72 (50)
2012: 48 (21)
2013: 27 (16)
2014: 51 (breakdown by agency not yet available)

The totals include police officers who work for city, county, state, and college departments, along with federal agents and officers who enforce the laws on tribal lands. The FBI will release its full report on officer deaths in 2014 later this year.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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