The past week was especially deadly for law enforcement, as three officers were killed on duty in the first five days of the year. Firearms-related fatalities accounted all of the fatalities.
Of the three peace officers that have been gunned down, two were killed on New Year's Day. Sgt. Abimael Castro-Berrocales of the Puerto Rico Police Department was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop, and Park Ranger Margaret Anderson of the National Park Service was shot and killed while attempting to stop a fleeing suspect.
The third, Ogden (Utah) Police Officer Jared Francom, was fatally shot while serving a drug-related warrant on Wednesday. Five other officers were shot in this incident and are currently in critical to stable condition.
"I'm deeply saddened for the surviving family members, loved ones, and colleagues of these brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). "Yet, I'm equally outraged that these dangerous criminals are prowling the streets of America and killing the peace officers who are sworn to protect our communities."
In 2011, 177 law enforcement officers were killed—a 16% increase from 2010 and a 45% increase over 2009. In 2011, 71 of the fatalities were firearms-related incidents, a 20% increase over 2010.
"Our law enforcement officers are being asked to do more with less and we must provide them the necessary tools to do their jobs effectively and safely," Floyd said in a statement. "And we need a tougher criminal justice system that will protect our country's citizens, including our peace officers, who have become visible and vulnerable targets for criminals."
In efforts to combat this growing problem, the NLEOMF has formed partnerships with the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to promote law enforcement safety initiatives and raise public awareness.