WASHINGTON — Police chiefs from around the country on Tuesday supported longer prison terms for gun-carrying felons as a way to combat a recent rise in police deaths in the line of duty.
In a meeting at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder said he couldn't imagine how his family would feel if his brother, now a retired law enforcement officer, had been killed while on the job.
A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. So far this year, 49 have lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.
At least one of the participants in the meeting, West Memphis, Ark., Police Chief Bob Paudert, has experienced the tragedy that the attorney general described.
Paudert's police officer son Brandon and a second officer, Bill Evans, were shot to death last year by a man and his son during a traffic stop. The father and son, who was firing an AK-47, had been advocates of anti-government causes.
In an interview after Tuesday's meeting, Paudert said the federal government had information about the two shooters' ties to anti-government groups.
Federal agencies need to do a better job of sharing information with state and local law enforcement agencies, Paudert said.
Holder is directing the 93 U.S. attorney offices around the country to work with state and local police departments to address the rising number of fatalities in law enforcement.
After the meeting, Baltimore Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld said the law enforcement community needs to look at the issue more broadly _ focusing on what steps can make Americans safer, not just police officers.
In the Paudert case, the two suspects were slain in a shootout with police about 90 minutes after the slayings of Brandon Paudert and Evans.
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