Families across the country are in mourning as nearly 120 police officers have died in the line of duty across the U.S. since the beginning of this year.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Officer Down Memorial Page lists 119 officers who have died serving their communities thus far in 2021.
Among them is a Delaware officer whose chief said he was “a hero for somebody.”
“Corporal Keith Heacook’s household graciously determined to donate his organs,” Delmar Police Chief Ivan Barkley said, according to the Examiner.
Breaking down the numbers
The Officer Down Memorial Page shows that January was the deadliest year so far for law enforcement officers in the U.S. Forty-seven officers died in the line of duty that month.
Since then, the numbers have been declining, with 31 deaths in February, 22 in March, and 19 in April, the page reports.
The state with the most officer deaths so far in 2021 was Texas, with 19, reports said. Florida and Georgia had 10 and 12, respectively. Thirteen officers from the federal government have also perished.
Causes of death
The causes of the deaths varied. The most prominent cause by far, however, was the coronavirus, which was reported to have killed 63 officers since January.
The second leading cause of death among officers was gunshot wounds, which claimed 19 lives. Other causes mentioned by the Officer Down Memorial Page included vehicular assault, which was responsible for nine deaths; assault, which was responsible for four deaths; and stabbing, which was responsible for two deaths.
Six K9 officers also have lost their lives this year, including three by gunfire.
The real cost
In its report, the Washington Examiner said many law enforcement officials have blamed the spike in deaths on “anti-police rhetoric.” Patrick Lynch, the leader of the New York Police Benevolent Association, told the outlet:
Until politicians stop encouraging hatred and violence towards police officers, we must be prepared to face such attacks at all times, both on duty and off duty.
Patrick Yoes, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, expressed a similar sentiment. “Those who demonize police do so at a cost,” Yoes told the Examiner. “They are making our communities and our jobs less safe.”