The number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms jumped by 56% this year and included 15 ambush deaths. But gun-related police deaths still remain far below historic highs and lower than the average annual figures in the past decade, according to a report released today by the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Fifty officers were killed by guns this year, far higher than the 32 such deaths last year but the same as 2012 figures. "With the increasing number of ambush-style attacks against our officers, I am deeply concerned that a growing anti-government sentiment in America is influencing weak-minded individuals to launch violent assaults against the men and women working to enforce our laws," says Craig Floyd, the fund's chairman. "We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness."
Among the report's highlights:
- In 2011, 73 officers were killed in gunfire, the most in any year in the past decade. The average since 2004 is 55 police deaths annually.
- The report found 126 federal, local, tribal, and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty in 2014. That's a 24% jump from last year's 102 on-duty deaths, though below the average annual figures since 2004 and the high of 156 in 1973.
- Of the 126 officer deaths this year, shootings were the leading cause, followed by traffic-related fatalities, at 49.
- This year's increase in gun-related deaths followed a dramatic dip in 2013, when the figure fell to 19th-century levels.
- California had the most officer deaths at 14; Texas followed with 11, and New York with nine. Florida had six, and Georgia had five.
- The 15 ambush assaults on police officers this year compares to just five in 2013, but matched 2012 for the highest total since 1995.
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