The number of police officers who died in the line of duty decreased by over 30% over the first six months of this year compared to 2021, but the number of officers killed by gun deaths increased by nearly 20%, according to a new report released Thursday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The numbers, part of the organization's mid-year report on all officer fatalities, found that, so far this year, 129 federal state, tribal and local officers died in the line of duty, compared to 188 over the same time period last year.
The organization says the decrease is almost entirely due to a reduction in COVID-19 deaths but the virus continues to be the biggest killer of law enforcement in 2022, with 54 officers losing their lives because of it, compared to 98 at the same time last year.
Thirty-three officers died from gun deaths in 2022 compared to 28 during the previous year at the same time.
Sgt. Joshua Caudell, a K-9 officer with the Arkansas Department of Corrections was one of the officers shot and killed.
The family of the nine-year police officer called his death "devastating" according to local reports.
NLEOMF says the most of the gun-related deaths were carried out with handguns, and involved domestic disturbances. The month of June saw most gun violence with 12 officer deaths.
Traffic deaths, the group said, are also down 9%, while automobile crashes are up.
"Of the 31 traffic-related fatalities, 19 were automobile crashes and 1 was a motorcycle crash," the report says. "During the same time period last year, 13 officers were killed in automobile crashes and three died in motorcycle crashes.
The 20 total crashes over the first six months of 2022 represent a 25% increase compared to 16 in the same time period in 2021."
The report found that 53 were city officers, 41 were from sheriff's offices and 19 were from state police agencies.