One of the more somber statistics to be revealed as 2016 comes to a close is this: The number of police officers killed in the line of duty in the United States hit a five-year high with more ambush-style attacks this year than in the past two decades.
Statistics released Thursday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that the 135 police fatalities in 2016 were a 10 percent increase over the 123 officers who died in the line of duty in 2015.
During a two-week span in July, eight officers lost their lives in ambush-style attacks. Five Dallas police officers were shot by a heavily armed lone-wolf sniper following what had been a peaceful Black Lives Matter march through the streets of downtown Dallas. Two weeks later, three Baton Rouge officers were killed and three others injured in an ambush.
According to the Memorial Fund report, 20 police officers died in eight multiple-shooting death incidents in 2016, tying with 1971 for the highest total of any year since 1932.
The report found that 64 officers were killed in firearm-related incidents in 2016 — a 56 percent increase over 2015 when 41 officers were killed. It’s the highest number of firearms-related deaths recorded since 2011 when the tally was 73.
Since the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, tensions between police and the communities they serve have heightened, and police have become targets.
“Public safety is a partnership and, too often, the service and sacrifice of our law enforcement professionals is taken for granted,” Craig Floyd, president and chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said in a statement. “We must never forget that 900,000 law enforcement officers nationwide risk their lives every day for our safety and protection. And, this year, 135 of those men and women did not make it home to their families at the end of their shift.”
Other statistics from the report on 2016 fatalities include Texas having the highest number of officer fatalities with 17, followed by California with 10, Louisiana with nine, Georgia with eight and Michigan with six. Fifty-three officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, which was 10 percent more than the 48 deaths in 2015 and six of the fatalities were female officers.