STATE WIDE–Four police officers died while on the job in Indiana in 2021. They were part of a total of 458 officer who died around the country, which is the highest number ever, the closest being 1930, when there were 312 fatalities. The leading cause of death last year was COVID-19.
COVID killed 301 officers around the country and one in Indiana, Sgt. Thomas E. Sawyer, with the Hammond Police Dept., who died June 17.
“This year’s statistics demonstrate that America’s front line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the performance of their duties,” said Troy Anderson, executive director for Officer Safety and Wellness with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
But, deaths of officers were up in almost every category, and the four officers killed in Indiana are each a sample of the different causes.
“It is paramount that we keep in mind that every number here represents someone’s loved one, a life, a son or daughter, a mother or father,” said Anderson.
Lt. Eugene Lasco, Indiana Dept. of Correction, was stabbed to death Feb. 21. He was one of three officers stabbed to death around the country.
Reserve Deputy James Driver, Monroe County Sheriff’s Dept., died in a car wreck, March 29.
“The dramatic increase in traffic-related fatalities in 2021, is also cause for concern for law enforcement agencies nation-wide,” said Anderson. Data from the Fund said 58 officers died in traffic fatalities, which was up 38 percent from 2020.
Det. Greg Ferency, Terre Haute Police Dept./FBI, July 7, was ambushed and shot to death outside the FBI building in Terre Haute.
“The leading circumstance of firearm fatalities was officers killed in ambush-style attacks,” said Anderson. “A total of 19 officers were killed in ambush attacks in 2021, a significant increase over the only six such attacks in 2020.”
Across the country 61 officers were killed by people with guns, which is up 36 percent from 2020.
While Anderson talked about numbers, he stressed several times while releasing those numbers that each person was an individual, not a statistic.
“We must never forget this loss and the enduring effects to the families, agencies and the communities they represented.”