Fifty-one US police officers were murdered in felonious acts in 2014, says the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The slain officers were of the total 96 US police force members who were killed in the line of duty last year, the FBI said Monday.
The new report shows that the number of officers murdered, as opposed to accidentally killed, increased significantly compared to 2013 when only 27 officers were murdered.
Still, it was lower than 2010 and 2005, when 56 and 55 officers were killed respectively.
The report was released amid a controversial debate over the number of Americans killed by law enforcement officers in the US and the inability of the government to release related data.
The bureau’s Uniform Crime Reporting program collects data from over 18,000 local and federal law enforcement agencies, including information about so-called “justifiable homicide.”
The willful killings by law enforcement are seen as justifiable or excusable when an officer kills a criminal in the line of duty or a private citizen kills a criminal committing a felony.
According to the FBI, 444 justifiable homicides were committed by law enforcement and 277 others by private citizens last year.
However, US law enforcement invariably fails to publish the total number of American citizens killed by officers, either accidentally or illegally.
Since reporting is done voluntarily and some police departments do not participate, many killings are never reported.
In addition to the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes related information through their National Violent Death Reporting System.
The Washington Post and the US edition of Britain’s Guardian newspaper are keeping their own record in order to fill in this gap.
According to the Guardian’s interactive “The Counted” project, 922 people have been killed by police in the US, including 809 by firearm so far this year. There were 62 unarmed African Americans among those killed.
Also, The Washington Post revealed that 788 people have been fatally shot by police so far this year, including 28 who were black and unarmed.