Assaults on Law-Enforcement Officers Down Slightly in 2021

Source: 2021 Crime in Virginia report

by James A. Bacon

Although the number of police officers assaulted in the line of duty declined somewhat in 2021, two police officers were killed last year compared to one in 2020 and one in 2019, according to data published in the 2021 Crime in Virginia report issued by the Virginia State Police.

The number of “major injuries” fell slightly in 2021 compared to the previous two years.

2021 — 1,787 assaults
2020 — 1,973 assaults
2019 — 1,939 assaults

Forty-five officers suffered major injuries such as severe lacerations, broken bones, and internal injuries. That compared to 47 major injuries in 2020 and 39 in 2019.

Major injuries comprised only a small percentage of incidents in which law enforcement officers were killed or assaulted, however. The vast majority are classified as “no injury” or “apparent minor injury.” In the overwhelming majority of assaults, police were assaulted by “personal weapons” — hands, fists, feet, arms, or teeth. Only 39 involved firearms, and that number was down from 62 the previous year.

On the other hand, the number of assaults classified as “ambush – no warning” remained elevated — 14 last year compared to 15 and 7 the two previous years.