07/18/2007

Police deaths at highest midyear level in decades

"This should be a wake-up call for the whole country." 

By Kevin Johnson
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A surge in fatal shootings has contributed to a dramatic increase in deaths of law enforcement officers during the first six months of this year, the highest midyear body count in nearly three decades, according to a report due out today.

The annual count by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 39 officers were killed in shootings, up from 27 during the first six months of last year.

The abrupt midyear increase comes less than a year after the organization reported that 145 officers were killed in the line of duty in all of 2006, the lowest annual number in eight years. That year, fatal shootings dropped to 52, from 59 in 2005.

"These are the most alarming increases in officer fatalities I've ever seen for a midyear period," said Craig Floyd, the memorial fund's chairman and chief executive officer. "It's somewhat shocking. Is there something at work that nobody has gotten their arms around?" he said.

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