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Law enforcement deaths up 24 percent in 2014 in U.S.

Fifteen of the U.S. police officers killed by firearms in 2014 died in ambushes, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported.

By Frances Burns
Law enforcement deaths up 24 percent in 2014 in U.S.
Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were honored at the New York City Police Academy's graduation ceremony in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27. Ramos and Liu, who were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn a week earlier, were among the 15 police officers killed in ambush shootings during the year. Photo by Dennis Van Tine/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The number of U.S. law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty rose 24 percent in 2014 to 126, a report released Tuesday said.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in a preliminary report said that 50 of those officers died from gun shots, up 56 percent from the 32 firearms deaths in 2013. But the number was still below the average of 53 a year in the decade between 2000 and 2009 and below the 1970s, when an average of 127 police officers were fatally shot every year with firearms deaths peaking at 156 in 1973.

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The year was marked by tension between police and many in the public with large demonstrations across the country over police killings in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. On Dec. 20, two New York police officers were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn by a man who had posted messages on Instagram about killing "pigs" in reprisal and who then took his own life.

Fifteen of the firearms deaths involved ambush attacks like the one that killed Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Eight were killed during traffic stops or chases, seven while investigating suspicious activity and six responding to disturbance calls. Two of the shootings were accidental.

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"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 Craig W. Floyd, the fund's chairman and CEO. "Enough is enough. We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness."

The report said that traffic fatalities were the second most common cause of on-duty deaths with 49 in 2014, up from 44 in 2013. Another 24 deaths were blamed on job-related illness, one officer was strangled, one died in an accidental drowning and one was killed in a fire.

Six officers with federal agencies died during the year. Another two worked for corrections agencies, five were police in U.S. territories, two were tribal officers and one was with the military police.

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