Apr 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

FBI chief Wray addresses 59% jump in police officer murders

A screenshot of FBI chief Chris Wray on CBS' "60 Minutes."

A screenshot of FBI director Christopher Wray on CBS News' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

There was a 59% increase in the murders of police officers, with 73 officers killed in 2021. FBI director Christopher Wray addressed that stat in an interview aired on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday evening.

Driving the news: Wray spoke on the wider issue of crime fighting and on the 29% rise in murder in the U.S. in 2020, with almost 5,000 more people killed than the previous year.

What he's saying: CBS News' Scott Pelley asked Wray what was behind the rise in homicides. "Certainly the pandemic didn't help. There's a variety of ways in which that contributed to it," Wray said.

  • "We're seeing more and more juveniles committing violent crime, and that's certainly an issue. We're seeing a certain amount of gun trafficking, interstate gun trafficking. That's part of it. And we're seeing an alarming frequency of some of the worst of the worst getting back out on the streets," he added.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers were "being killed at a rate of almost one every five days," Wray said.

  • "Violence against law enforcement in this country is one of the biggest phenomena that I think doesn't get enough attention," he said.
"Some of it is tied to the violent crime problem as a whole. But one of the phenomena that we saw in the last year is that an alarming percentage of the 73 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty last year were killed through things like being ambushed or shot while out on patrol. ... Wearing the badge shouldn't make you a target."
— FBI director Christopher Wray

The big picture: Wray's comments come as firearm-related injuries surpassed motor vehicle crashes, as new research shows that there were 45,222 firearm-related deaths of all types — suicide, homicide, unintentional and undetermined — in the U.S. in 2020, a new peak for the country.

  • The FBI did not immediately respond to Axios' request for more information on the percentage of officers killed in ambushes or shot while out on patrol.

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Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Wray was commenting on the stats on murders of police officers, not citing them.

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