Dec. 28 (UPI) -- More law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year than last, according to annual statistics released Thursday.
The preliminary report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said 144 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers have died so far in 2018 -- compared to 129 in 2017, a 12 percent increase.
Fifty-two officers died in firearms-related incidents, a 13 percent increase. Of those, 14 happened while officers were trying to arrest an individual and eight were killed while conducting investigations. Six died responding to domestic or public disturbance calls, five were ambushed and two were killed inadvertently by other officers. There were 50 traffic-related deaths, an increase of 9 percent.
"The rising number of law enforcement officer deaths in 2018 is disappointing news after a decline in 2017," National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Craig W. Floyd said in a statement.
"Sadly this reminds us that public safety is a dangerous job and can come at a very steep price. We must never take the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers for granted, and we must remember the families of the fallen who are left behind."
"Our society is more polarized. People are angry," he said. "More people are willing to use violence in response to a grievance or in furtherance of an ideological or political cause, and unfortunately that includes targeting police officers.
"It's hard as a law enforcement professional to view these statistics as anything but extraordinarily sad ... Each of these officers had a family. For the most part, people become police officers to better our society and each one of these cases, the ultimate price was paid to do so."
The report showed that 42 officers died from causes unrelated to firearms or traffic incidents, a 14 percent increase over 37 in 2017. Those causes include heart attacks or strokes (18) cancers related to search and recovery efforts connected to the 2001 World Trade Center terror attacks (15), four by drowning, three beaten to death and two struck by trains.