37 US police officers killed on duty in first five months of 2021, says FBI director Christopher Wray

Deaths of police officers mirror national trends

Clara Hill
Thursday 17 June 2021 10:39 EDT
<p>Christopher Wray testified to the House Oversight Committee and spoke about these numbers</p>

Christopher Wray testified to the House Oversight Committee and spoke about these numbers

Thirty-seven police officers have been killed in active duty in the first five months of this year, according to the director of the FBI.

FBI director Christopher Wray revealed the figures to the House Oversight Committee on 14 June.

“And that’s not counting all those officers who’ve died in the line of duty facing the countless other inherent dangers of the job, like from a car accident in pursuit after a subject or drowning during an attempted rescue,” he said to the committee.

He also highlighted the additional occupational hazards introduced by the spread of Covid-19.

“Or even the scores of officers who’ve died from Covid-19. Because, of course, law enforcement kept coming to work every day despite the pandemic,” Mr Wray said.

He is not the first person working in law enforcement to emphasise the impact of the pandemic on police.

“By the end of this pandemic, it is very likely that covid will surpass 9/11 as the single largest incident cause of death for law enforcement officers,” Chris Cosgriff, executive director at The Officer Down Memorial Page, told The Washington Post in September. The attacks on 11 September 2001 are believed the deadliest day for law enforcement in American history.

The Officer Down Memorial Page is a non-profit seeking justice for “America’s fallen law enforcement officers”. The rising levels of casualties in police departments is similar to the rise of violent crime throughout the US.

The Gun Violence Archive estimate there were 56 mass shootings in May. They define a mass shooting as when four or more people are injured by gunfire. This is believed the be the most in any one month since they began tracking in 2013.

The murder rate is believed to have risen by 20 per cent, according to the FBI data from this year. Recent police deaths include two officers dying in California by gunfire on different occasions in May and a Capitol police officer dying following someone running him over with his car in April.

According to Mr Wray’s testimony, he calls the families of officers who are killed on the job, saying to the committee: “Since August of 2017 when I started in this job, I’ve made more than 200 of those calls.”

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