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Nation’s law enforcement deaths up 55% in 2021

Most of them lost their lives to COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — Last year, 458 law enforcement officers died across the nation, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The report also shows that law enforcement deaths are up 55% from the same time period last year, with an average upward trend of deaths since 2010.

The average age of the officers who passed was 48, with the youngest being 21, and the oldest being 79. Most officers who died were city officers, with 165 of the deaths being city officers. 

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The biggest cause of death: COVID-19. It is unknown whether the officers were exposed to COVID while on the job. 

In Austin, two police officers and one firefighter died from the virus last year.

"We had never had this many employees die in such a short period of time. As the senior chaplain for the Austin Police Department, I've done six line-of-duty deaths over 20-plus years, but to do two within a month, within a couple of weeks of each other...," APD Chaplain Rick Randall told KVUE last year.

RELATED: Austin Fire Department 'heartbroken' after firefighter dies of COVID-19

The report also shows that there was a 38% increase in traffic-related fatalities like single-vehicle crashes, vehicle collisions, motorcycle crashes and other incidents. 

On top of that, there was a 36% increase in officers killed by guns. Handguns were the most commonly used weapon. The months with the highest amount of firearm-related fatalities were May and July. There were seven deaths each of those months. 

Most firearm fatalities were ambush-style. Nineteen officers died as a result of an ambush, which was a large increase compared to six attacks in 2020. 

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