(WJW) — According to a new report, more law enforcement officers died in 2021 than during any year in nearly 10 decades, with the majority of deaths caused by COVID-19.
According to data from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 458 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year. That’s an increase of 55 percent from 2020.
According to the fund’s preliminary data, 301 fatalities have been identified as caused by COVID. The report states that it’s anticipated a significant number across the country have still yet to be reported.
“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 states.
Three law enforcement officers from Ohio were among the 301 COVID-19 fatalities. One of the three was Patrolman Sean E. VanDenberg, of Lawrence Township in Stark County.
VanDenberg passed away on Dec. 25.
“Sean was a treasured asset to our department and our community,” the Lawrence Township Police Department said in a Facebook post. “Sean will be greatly missed and we won’t be able to replace his contagious smile or laughter at the station.”
His services were Jan. 8.
The fund’s report also noted a “dramatic” increase in traffic-related fatalities in 2021. Fifty-eight officers died in incidents like single-vehicle crashes, vehicle collisions and motorcycle crashes. That number is an increase of 38 percent from 2020.
The following is a breakdown of all officer fatalities recorded in 2021:
– 301 COVID-19-related
– 62 firearms-related
– 58 traffic-related
– 37 other