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Texas Led The Nation In On-Duty Officer Deaths In 2019

A police officer holds a rose
Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
A police officer holds a rose during a memorial for Dallas officers killed during an ambush in 2016.

A sheriff's deputy was shot and killed after a traffic stop in East Texas on Tuesday, bringing the total number of on-duty officer fatalities in the state this year to 18.

reportout Monday from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found Texas already led the nation in officer fatalities in 2019. The total was up from 11 deaths last year.

Seven of the officers who died this year were killed by firearms, six were killed in traffic-related incidents, and five of the fatalities were considered "other."

Marcia Ferranto, the memorial fund's CEO, said that usually means "some kind of a medical event.”

She said the breakdown is largely on par with national trends: There were 49 firearms-related fatalities and 43 traffic-related ones in 2019. 

“We do find it very common that firearms and traffic remain our two major reasons for line of duty deaths,” she said.  

Earlier this month, Houston police Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call. Ferranto says the circumstances of his death – a firearms-related fatality linked to domestic violence – is a significant threat to officers. 

“Many of our firearms fatalities have to do with domestic violence,” she said. 

There are three major circumstances where officers are most likely to be killed by firearms, Ferranto said: when serving high-risk warrants, conducting investigations and responding to domestic violence calls. 

She said one way to improve the safety of on-duty officers is to use body cameras.  

“The other one is the bullet-resistant vest,” she said. 

Nationwide, the number of officers who died in the line of duty decreased by 18%. As of Dec. 27, 128 law enforcement officers died, 119 men and 9 women. Their average age was 43, and they averaged 14 years of service. (The report did not include Tuesday's fatality.)

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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