Line of Duty deaths on the rise nationwide, data shows

WATCH: Line of Duty deaths on the rise nationwide, data shows

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Helena-West Helena Police Officer Travis Wallace is the 45th law enforcement officer shot and killed this year across the country.

“We have ramped up like we have never had to before to record line of duty deaths for 2020,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum.

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Ferranto said they’ve been tracking these deaths for more than 30 years.

“Unfortunately, I think that when the final numbers come in, we are going to eventually be able to link these line of duty deaths to everything that has happened in 2020 and how tragedy it is that is leading to the loss of any lives,” she said.

The nonprofit’s data shows 148 officer line of duty deaths so far this year which is an increase compared to the same time frame last year.

Fall Officer Fatalities in 2019 & 2020
Fall Officer Fatalities in 2019 & 2020 (National Law Enforcement Memorial)

The data also shows seven officers from the Mid-South lost their lives this year with three from Arkansas and Mississippi and one from Tennessee.

Fallen Officer Fatalities in the Mid-South
Fallen Officer Fatalities in the Mid-South (National Law Enforcement Memorial)

The organization said 45 of those deaths including Officer Wallace’s were related to firearms, 43 were traffic related and 60 were other causes.

Ferranto said they’re still examining the data but she said COVID-19 is a major factor for the increase in officer deaths this year.

“If a law enforcement officer is determined to have fallen in the line of duty due to COVID, it will absolutely be related to the that that law enforcement officer has no choice when they wake up in the morning and they go out into the public to expose themselves to COVID-19 – it’s part of their job that they are doing every day,” said Ferranto.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum will release a final report about this year’s fallen officers in January.

The nonprofit will also host a series of presentations with best practices for how to reduce line of duty deaths.