Danger is a growing part of police work, reports the Associated Press. The killings of two police officers and the wounding of two others in upstate New York during a three-week span in late February and early March underscored the risk. The FBI began keeping records of assaults on police in 1980. After bottoming out at 46,608 assaults in 1996, violence against police is on the rise. There were 59,373 assaults on police in 2004, the sixth time in eight years assaults on police had increased from the previous year. Over the last decade, an average of 16,505 officers have been injured yearly in assaults.
There are also more law enforcement officers today than ever before with more than 870,000 men and women employed in police work, said Bruce Mendelsohn of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. While assaults are up, police fatalities have declined over the past 30 years. The 1970s were the deadliest decade for American law enforcement, when 2,255 officers died, an average of 226 each year. The average during the 10 years between 1995-2004 was 162 deaths per year. Last year, 155 officers nationwide died on duty. After the recent New York officers’ deaths, Gov. George Pataki renewed his call for stronger gun control laws and increased penalties for violence against police officers, including the death penalty for cop-killers.