Shooting deaths of members of the U.S. law-enforcement community spiked by 56 percent in 2014 over last year, including more than a dozen ambush attacks against officers, according to new data released Tuesday — on a week that will be bookended by funerals for slain cops.
The rise in police fatalities is marked by a year of nationwide protests after incidents of unarmed black men dying at the hands of white officers.
Overall, 126 officers — at "federal, state, local, tribal and territorial" levels — were killed in the line of duty, a 24 percent uptick from 102 deaths last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Shootings compose the majority of deaths: 50 in 2014, up from 32 in 2013. Traffic-related fatalities came in second: 49 in 2014, a slight increase from 44 in 2013.
In the shooting deaths, so-called ambush attacks increased the most, from 5 last year to 15 this year. That number increased this month with the shootings of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who had been sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn when they were fatally struck. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who later shot himself in the head, had threatened police on social media before the random attack.
Ramos was buried last Saturday, and Liu's funeral is Sunday.
Craig Floyd, CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that produces the annual report, said a "growing anti-government sentiment" is to blame for influencing people to attack police.
"Enough is enough," he said in a statement. "We need to tone down the rhetoric and rally in support of law enforcement and against lawlessness."
While the number of on-duty police deaths is up this year from last year, the total number of 126 is still lower than the average for the last decade — 151.