A record number of law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2021, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund Wednesday, with most losing their lives to COVID-19.
In 2021, 458 law enforcement officers died -- up 55% from 2020, according to the report.
In 2020, 295 federal, state, local and tribal officers died in the line of duty. The closest number to 2021's was recorded was in 1930, when there were 312 law enforcement deaths.
The vast majority of deaths -- 301 -- were due to COVID-19, according to the report, the second year in a row COVID-19 was the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths. The vaccination status of the 301 officers who died is not known.
Customs and Border Patrol Agent David Ramirez was among those who died due to complications of COVID-19. Ramirez, a father of three, was assigned to the Sector Intelligence Unit/Joint California Forensics Center in San Diego, according to Customs and Border Protection.
"This year’s statistics demonstrate that America’s front-line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the Covid-19 pandemic nationwide," the report said. “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."
Officers like Lubbock County, Texas, Sheriff's Office Sgt. Joshua Bartlett were among the 62 officers killed by guns in 2021.
In the morning hours of July 15, a man was stopped by the Texas Highway Patrol for reckless driving. According to the NODEM page, the subject returned home after the incident and began walking around his neighborhood with a gun. When the SWAT team and Bartlett showed up, the suspect allegedly opened fire after barricading himself in his house, killing Bartlett, a military veteran.
The increase in officers killed by a gun increased by 36% from 2020. Handguns were the leading cause of death in the firearm category – with eight in October, making it the deadliest month in 2021.
Traffic-related incident killings, such as during stops, saw an increase of 38% from 2020.