WASHINGTON - The number of law enforcement officers killed across the United States over the course of 2013 dipped to the lowest level in six decades, according to a report released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The nonprofit group's latest figures show 111 officers died this past year while on duty. This figure is down 8 percent from 2012 when 121 officers were killed.
"That's the lowest fatality figure we've seen since 1959," says Craig Floyd with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Traffic-related deaths were the leading cause of officer fatalities, followed by firearms-related fatalities.
"Firearms related deaths -- there were 33 this past year. That's the lowest number since 1887," Floyd says.
However, job-related illnesses, such as heart attacks, increased in 2013 with 18 officer deaths, compared to 8 officer deaths in 2012.
Of the 111 law enforcement deaths, one occurred in Maryland and two took place in Virginia. D.C. saw no officer fatalities in 2013. Texas led the nation in officer fatalities.
Experts credit a number of factors, including a greater prevalence of bullet- resistant vests.
"We're not accepting death and injury as an unavoidable part of the job," Floyd says.
Follow @WTOP on Twitter.
© 2013 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.