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Ambush attacks lead line of duty deaths in 2014

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: January 29, 2015

— Excerpted from National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO)

Law enforcement officers are under attack for simply being in the business of fighting crime and the number of officers killed in ambush-style attacks in 2014 evidences that trend.

Officer fatalities in the U.S. rose 24 percent in 2014, reversing two years of dramatic declines in line of duty deaths, based on preliminary data compiled and released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). But even more disturbing is the fact that ambush-style attacks were the number one cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth year in a row. New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot to death in December while sitting in their marked patrol car. With the shooting death of Tarpon Springs (FL) Police Officer Charles Kondek, three officers were murdered in less than 24 hours.

“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 and keep our nation safe,” said NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness.”

Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, matching 2012 for the highest total since 1995. According to the NLEOMF report, 126 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013.

The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting their public support of police officers. “Until and unless you reverse course and take action against these killers and the violent and lawless mobs that support them, unless and until you are just as swift in effectively protecting our police as you have proved to be in doubting them, there will be more officers killed,” wrote NAPO President Thomas Nee. “Both of you men have pledged your strong support for law enforcement. Now more than ever our men and women in uniform need that support to be shown in a very open way.”

The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 (50) was 56 percent higher than the number killed by gunfire in 2013 (32). Forty-nine officers were killed in traffic-related incidents this past year, an 11 percent increase from 2013. Of these 49 officers, 35 were killed in automobile crashes, nine were struck and killed outside their vehicle and five officers were killed in motorcycle crashes.

Twenty-seven officers died due to other causes, including 24 who suffered from job-related illnesses — such as heart attacks — while performing their duties; one officer was strangled to death; one drowned; and one officer was killed in a fire-related incident.

In 2011, officer fatalities spiked to 171, which led to a number of new initiatives and policy changes aimed at promoting law enforcement safety. The result was a sharp decline in line-of-duty deaths to 123 in 2012 and 102 last year—the lowest fatality figure since 1944. The deadliest year ever for law enforcement was 1930 when 300 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. The deadliest single incident was the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, resulting in 72 officer deaths. There are more than 20,000 names of officers killed in the line of duty inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, dating back to 1791.

During the past year, more officers were killed in California (14) than any other state; followed by Texas (11); New York (9); Florida (6) and Georgia (5). Six officers killed in 2014 served with federal law enforcement agencies; two served with correctional agencies; two were tribal officers; and one was a military officer. Three of the 126 fatalities were female.

“We issue this report each year as a stark reminder that some 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers go out each and every day putting their lives on the line for our safety and protection,” Floyd said. “These brave men and women are willing to lay down their lives for us. The least we should do is honor and remember their service and sacrifice, support their families and do all that we can to make it safer for those who continue to serve.”

The statistics released by the NLEOMF are based on preliminary data compiled and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2015. For a complete copy of the preliminary report on 2014 law enforcement fatalities, go to: www.LawMemorial.org/FatalitiesReport.

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