The number of law enforcement line of duty deaths in the U.S. dropped to its lowest level in six decades in 2013.
Preliminary data released Monday in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's annual research bulletin noted that this was also the second year in a row the number of fatalities dropped and that the fewest number of officers were killed in firearms-related incidents since the 1800s
"The only good news is zero deaths, but this very significant drop in law enforcement fatalities the past two years is extremely encouraging," NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd said in a statement.
According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide in 2013. This was the fewest number of fatalities for the law enforcement profession since 1959 when 110 officers died.
This year's total was eight percent fewer than 2012 when 121 officers died in the line of duty.
The number one cause of officer fatalities in 2013 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 46 lives.
Thirty-three officers were killed in firearms-related incidents this past year, which was a 33 percent drop from 2012 and is the lowest number since 1887 when 27 officers were shot to death.
Thirty-two officers died due to other causes in 2013, including 14 who suffered heart attacks while performing their duties.
In 2011, officer fatalities spiked to 169, which led to a number of new initiatives aimed at promoting law enforcement safety.
Among them were an increasing number of agencies requiring officers to wear bullet-resistant vests; the formation of the National Officer Safety and Wellness Group by the U.S. Department of Justice; and the VALOR program to provide training to help prevent violence against officers and to help officers survive violent encounters when they do occur.
Since 2011, all categories of officer fatalities have dropped by 34 percent and firearms-related deaths have declined by 54 percent.
"Our organization, in partnership with others, is working hard to create a new culture of safety in law enforcement that no longer accepts deaths and injuries as an unavoidable part of the job," Floyd said. "This year's officer fatality report is strong evidence that this intensified effort to promote law enforcement safety is making a difference.”