More law enforcement officers were killed in Florida than any other state in 2011, says the Tampa Bay Times. For the first time in 14 years, more law enforcement officers were killed by gunfire than traffic accidents, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. In a 28-day stretch early this year, three St. Petersburg officers were gunned down. Earlier this month, a Lakeland police officer was fatally shot.
St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon said it’s part of a fundamental shift. “The mentality of the criminal has changed,” Harmon said. “The consequences — the prison time — doesn’t seem as meaningful as it once did.” Florida has lost 14 officers in the line of duty so far this year, including seven to gunfire. The 68 firearms-related deaths nationally nearly match a decade-long high of 69 deaths set in 2007. “I think that it tells you that there are more criminals out there that don’t hesitate to shoot at and kill police officers as they try to run from the law,” said Steve Groeninger, a spokesman for the law enforcement memorial fund.