Fatal Shootings Of Police Officers In 2014 Were Way Up From 2013 — But Down From The Years Before That

There have been a lot of incidents over this last year that really make you stop and think, well, 2014 isn't going very well. There's no doubt it's been a rough stretch lately, punctuated by the tragic killings of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, and the subsequent ratcheting-up of tensions. And as if on cue, a new report has come out detailing that gun deaths of police officers rose sharply in 2014.

The numbers are slight, compared to the numbers we usually use to discuss annual death rates, but they strike a sharp contrast to the preceding year of 2013. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 50 police officers across the United States were killed by guns in 2014, including 15 shot and killed in ambush scenarios, the most common type of police shooting throughout the year, according to the group.

This is compared to 32 police gun deaths in 2013, a far less violent year in relative terms. According to the report, the most deadly states for police officers were Florida, New York, California, Texas, and Georgia, and that's not much of a surprise — the first four on that list are the most populous states in the country.

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On a slightly deeper dig into the numbers, however, there are still reasons to feel positive about the safety of police officers these days. As detailed by the AP's Amanda Lee Myers, when you compare 2014's number of officer gun deaths to the average from the previous ten years, it still beats it. Since 2004, an average of 55 police officers have died by gunshot each year. Of that stretch, it was actually 2011 that had the most dismal figures — a whopping 72 gun deaths of officers around the country.

It's the striking increase between this year and the last which is drawing so much attention. And there's no doubt that tensions are boiling high in recent weeks — after the deaths of NYPD officers Ramos and Liu, some in the department have refused even to look at Mayor Bill de Blasio, and stoked an indignant and outraged response in the direction of anti-police violence protesters. If you see anyone suggesting that these facts are somehow causally related, you might ask them to take a step back — given that ten-year average, the low 2013 figures can be seen as something of an outlier, just like that particularly bloody 2011.

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Of course, the figures detailed above are specifically for gun deaths — if you broaden the scope, the numbers run higher still. In sum, 126 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2014. Once again, that's less than the average since 2004, and it falls far short of the deadliest year for police on record, which occurred in 1973.

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