COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for police officers in the line of duty in 2021, according to research compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The report released Tuesday shows 458 officers on the federal, state, tribal and local levels died last year, with preliminary data saying around 301 were killed from the coronavirus. 

Other causes of deaths included felony assaults at 84, firearms at 61 and struck-by-traffic incidents at 11. Also listed were auto crashes involving a person fleeing from police or a drunk driver, beaten to death, 9/11-related illnesses and stabbings. 


The 458 officers who died is a 55 percent increase from 2020, when 295 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. It is also the highest number killed in a year since 1930, when 312 officers died.

It is the second year in the row that COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death among line-of-duty officers.

“To properly identify these cases, NLEOMF and its Covid-19 Task Force is working with federal, state, tribal and local agencies to determine whether officers experienced direct exposure to individuals with Covid-19 while they were performing in their official law enforcement capacity,” the report states. 

“Law enforcement officers nationwide continue to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus in the course of their daily assignments; therefore, the number of line-of-duty deaths is sadly ever-increasing,” it added.