With 32 officers shot and killed in 2016, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released a report showing an eight percent increase in the number of police officers shot and killed as of July 20, 2016, compared to the same period last year.
The rate reached an all-time high in 1975 when 140 officers were accounted for mid-year fatalities. For 2016, the report shows 67 deaths, where 32 were related to shootings and 24 resulted from traffic-related incidents, 17 percent less over the 29 officers killed last year.
The most dangerous state for officers was Texas, where 13 law enforcement agents lost their lives on duty. Louisiana shows a casualty account of 7. The District of Columbia alongside twenty-four states did not see any police casualties in the first half of 2016.
Police shootings on the rise
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund noted that almost half of the gun-related fatalities took place in ambush-style attacks, where the officer was not aware of the assailant. Only three officers died in these circumstances in 2015, compared to this year’s 14.
It is the first time in three years that casualties linked to traffic incidents did not account for the leading cause of the death of police officers. In 2016, 24 incidents of the kind occurred, compared to 29 in 2015’s first half. 13 of this year’s cases occurred involving over one vehicle, five were struck and killed outside their vehicles, four were due to motorcycles and the remaining two officers died in a single-vehicle crash.
The fund’s CEO and President Craig W. Floyd issued a statement expressing his gratitude for the men and women that put their lives on the line to keep the United States safe. He also referred to the killings of the law enforcement officers in Texas, which is the primary cause of this year’s alarming rates.
“Public safety is a partnership. Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans clearly support and appreciate the vital role law enforcement plays in our society. So, now is the time for all law-abiding citizens to partner with law enforcement in support of safe communities,” said Floyd.
To protect and serve, not so easy
Currently, 900,000 police officers serve on active duty in the United States, setting the record for the highest figure ever. Over 10,000 of them are female. Since the first police casualty in 1791, 20,000 officers have died in the line of duty. For the last ten years, one officer has died every 61 hours in average.
Police casualties are always a sensitive issue, as the event in U.S. history when most officers lost their lives was the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, when 72 officers lost their lives trying to save those in danger.
“They wear a Kevlar vest, but they’re just people– flesh and blood. They’re fathers. They’re mothers,” stated Kate Johnson to KEYE TV, whose husband has been a law enforcement officer for 15 years. “Having 4 children myself…thinking what it would be like to have to tell them about their father.”