Shooting deaths of law enforcement officers spiked 78 percent in the first half of 2016 compared with last year, including an alarming increase in ambush-style assaults like the ones that killed eight officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the Associated Press reports. However, data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show that firearms-related deaths of officers in the line of duty are still much lower than they were during previous decades like the 1970s. Thirty-two officers died in firearms-related incidents so far this year, including 14 that were ambush-style attacks. During the same period last year, 18 officers were shot and killed in the line of duty including three that were considered ambush attacks. “That’s a very alarming, shocking increase in the number of officers who are being literally assassinated because of the uniform they wear and the job that they do,” said the fund’s Craig Floyd.
The organization usually releases a mid-year report tracking incidents for the year’s first half, but decided to extend the period due to the July attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge against police officers. A total of 67 officers have died in the line of duty so far in 2016. That includes officers who died in traffic accidents, fatal falls, or airplane crashes. Floyd said that during the 1970s, there was an average of 127 officers shot and killed yearly; during the last ten years through 2015, the average was 52. He cited the reduction in violent crime in recent decades and said officers have benefited from the widespread introduction of body armor and improved trauma care if they do get shot.