According to the NLEOMF's new report, 126 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013. This was a significant increase over last year, although it must be noted that last year's number was unusually low. What's more notable, however, is the spike in firearms-related incidents and especially ambushes that resulted in officers' deaths in 2014.
Here are the numbers:
Firearms-related incidents were the number one cause of officer deaths in 2014, with 50. This was a 56% increase over the 32 officers shot and killed in 2013.
Ambush attacks resulted in 15 officer deaths, the leading felonious cause of deaths among officers in 2014 and for the fifth straight year.
"The fact that the number of ambush-murders of police officers in 2014 tripled over 2013 (from 5 ambush deaths to 15) should give us pause," says Greg Meyer, who retired as a captain from the Los Angeles Police Department and is a POLICE Magazine Advisory Board member. "The post-Ferguson, hysterical 24/7 media coverage on police shootings inspires rioters (who are not legitimate "protestors"), militants, and other nut cases who feel emboldened to target and attack police officers, whether for injury or death."
POLICE Magazine Advisory Board member Chief Bill Harvey of the Ephrata (Pa.) Police Department has similar concerns.
"The news media has glorified 'movements' such Occupy and the Arab Spring as well as anarchists, and social forms of social change extremism," Harvey says. "These small renegade groups have rejected civility, debate, process, and the ballot box as the means of change. Protests and senseless acts of violence and civil disobedience are their fuel and currency of hate."
The man who ambushed two NYPD officers earlier this month and shot them dead "execution style" in their patrol car first shared via social media site Instagram that he wanted to kill two police officers. He reportedly was seeking revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
And just today a Pennsylvania man who made similar threats in an online video tried to run over officers with his vehicle. In this incident no officers were injured and it was the subject who ended up dead.
"You need to be aware that we may be entering an era like the late 60's and early 70's, when liberal support of the crazies resulted in high numbers of police officers being ambushed," cautions Meyer. "Watch your back. Wear your vest. Stay tactically proficient. Assume at each call or each stop that there is 'no routine.' When you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation that is not imminently or immediately life-threatening, take a breath, reposition to a safe position, call for reinforcements, and then use appropriate tactics that will end the situation. Too often we "rush in" blindly, and tragedy results. On the other hand, if your situation is imminently or immediately life-threatening, do what you were trained to do, and end it quickly."