A total of 136 federal, state and local law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 1992, the fewest line-of-duty fatalities in nearly 30 years.
Two private national police organizations -- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors -- said that 1992 marked the fourth consecutive year that the number of law enforcement deaths declined since 192 officers were killed in 1988.
The 136 fatalities in 1992 -- the total as of midday Dec. 31 -- included 82 deaths resulting from assaults on officers. The other fatalities occurred from auto and aircraft crashes and drownings during rescue attempts.
Last year in Maryland, four officers were killed. They were:
* Police Officer Ryan Johnson, 26, of the Prince George's County Police Department, killed April 22. The father of two children was shot five times in a shootout in Capital Heights, the victim in a robbery attempt.
* Baltimore City Police Officer Ira Weiner, stabbed and shot to death Sept. 21 by a drug-crazed suspect in a West Mulberry Street rowhouse. The assailant who killed Officer Weiner, 28, was shot to death by city officers in a shootout.
* Maryland State Trooper First Class Mark Groner, 24, killed in an accident Oct. 1 in Dorchester County. His cruiser was hit by another vehicle while responding to an emergency call.
* Sgt. Roger P. Fleming, 36, of the Prince George's County Police Department, killed Oct. 27 while in pursuit of a stolen car on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway outside Washington, D.C.
Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the Upper Marlboro-based memorial fund, said the continuing decline in police officer fatalities is based on a number of factors.
"First, officers are receiving better training and are taking fewer risks when they don't have to," he said.
Another reason Mr. Floyd said police deaths have decreased is better equipment, such as protective body armor and weaponry.
"Last year, 1,200 officers were hit by gunfire and survived," he said. "Most, if not all of those who survived, were wearing Kevlar vests which lessened the severity of the wounds. And officers today can now compete with weapons in the hands of the criminals."
Thirdly, he said, growing community support for police has decreased the potential violence officers might encounter.
The data was compiled by the memorial fund, a nonprofit group that oversees the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. and by COPS, a national support group for police survivors.
Those killed in 1992 included 122 from 34 states, seven from U.S. federal agencies and five from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.