A spike in ambush-style attacks is a factor in this year’s second consecutive increase in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty, reports USA Today. Firearms-related fatalities of law enforcers are up 23% so far in 2011, even though violent crime has declined in much of the country, according to preliminary statistics. The Justice Department says about three-quarters of the shootings were ambush or surprise attacks.
Although the pace of overall shooting deaths has slowed since midyear, the numbers continue to frustrate law enforcement officials who earlier this year convened a national review of officer safety. Less than two weeks until the end of the year, the total number of officer deaths from all causes—174 —already marks the third largest death toll in the past decade.