The shooting deaths of five officers in a single incident in Dallas and three others just days later in Baton Rouge, La., helped drive an increase this year in the number of police officers slain in the line of duty, reports the Washington Post. Gunfire was the common factor in nearly half of all police deaths in 2016. So far this year, 64 police officers have been killed in shootings, up from 41 at the same point last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Nearly one in three officers fatally shot was killed in what the group called ambush attacks, including the assaults in Dallas and Baton Rouge that shook law enforcement nationwide.
The surge in officers killed by gunfire this year is the largest on record, up 56 percent over last year, the memorial fund’s data shows. That highlights a stark fact that has come into shape in recent years: Guns are increasingly the cause of line-of-duty deaths, according to an analysis of the memorial fund’s data. Nearly half of all officers slain in the line of duty were killed with guns, the highest percentage of deaths in more than two decades. Before this year, more officers were killed by traffic accidents than gunfire in 15 of the past 20 years, according to the memorial fund.