The number of law enforcement officers who died while on duty dropped this year after a two-year spike. But early numbers released Thursday show Georgia is second in the nation in the number of officers killed.
Eight Georgia police, sheriff’s and corrections officers died on duty in 2012, down from 10 last year and mirroring a 23 percent drop nationwide. But only Texas saw more officer fatalities this year, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Chairman and CEO Craig Floyd said it’s not clear why Georgia is among the most dangerous states for police.
“You look at that list and you say, ‘is there any underlying theme, any common denominator?’ And you really can’t put your finger on one,” Floyd said. “Whether it [was] felonious circumstances where they’re assaulted by criminals – that happened a few of the times – [or] the other times, it was unfortunately other dangers of the job.”
A Clayton County police officer was shot and killed earlier this month, and a corrections officer was stabbed to death by a prisoner. Two Atlanta police officers died in a helicopter crash.
Many of the others were involved in car accidents or struck by drivers, which also mirrors a nationwide trend.
“Traffic-related incidents have been the No. 1 cause of law enforcement fatalities in 14 of the last 15 years,” Floyd said. “That was true once again in 2012.”
Around the country, 127 officers died on duty this year. Floyd said the numbers are falling as more agencies require bulletproof vests. He said laws that make drivers use more caution around emergency vehicles are also cutting down on officer fatalities.
All of the fallen officers’ names will be added to the national memorial in Washington in May.