ImageThe National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) released staggering numbers to close out the year. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty rose 13% from 153 in 2010 to 173 in 2011. This number is also up 23% from 2009. The report also brought attention to a frightening trend. For the first time in 14 years the leading offender, beating out the usual suspect of traffic-related deaths, was gunfire. 68 police officers were gunned down in 2011. Of the 68 deaths, 14 took place while the officer was attempting an arrest, nine occurred during a domestic disturbance call and five were ambushes. Some officials have linked these deaths to the overwhelming gun sales that have shattered records this past year.

ImageHowever, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, doesn’t think legally purchased guns are the problem at all. “This is a devastating and unacceptable trend,” Holder went on to say, “Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day – and the fact that too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them.”

Holder also mentioned that new training regimens and programs are being put in place to stop these ongoing tragedies. One program reimbursed departments with more than $23 million for about 80,000 new stab resistant and bulletproof vests, which Holder says saved 16 lives.

On the other hand, Holder hasn’t always been the most trustworthy politician when it comes to gun safety. Back in 2009 Holder played a huge role in the “Fast and Furious” gun walking program. This program, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), allowed at least 2,000 guns to illegally “walk” from Arizona gun stores across the border into Mexico. Only 600 have been recovered and many have been thought to be in the possession of Mexican drug cartels. The objective of the Fast and Furious program was to monitor the flow of weapons, but clearly did not go as planned. Since its start, over 200 crimes have been linked to Operation Fast and Furious including the heartbreaking death of Brian Terry.

ImageCraig Floyd, Chairman of NLEOMF, doesn’t agree with Holder. He believes the perpetrator here is our failing economy, “Drastic budget cuts affecting law enforcement agencies across the country have put our officers at grave risk. At a time when officers are facing a more cold-blooded criminal element and fighting a war on terror, we are cutting vital resources necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of the innocent citizens they protect.”

Law Enforcement agencies are greatly impacted by budget cuts. Not only does vital training get cut, but their numbers dwindle. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies were laid off last year. On top of this nearly 30,000 law enforcement jobs are unfilled. Floyd summed it up best when he described the real reason this is such a disastrous truth, “It’s perhaps the most preventable death for law enforcement.” He said. “Better training and better awareness of the dangers will help to spare more police lives as we move forward.”

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