Police Fatalities Up 38 Percent This Year

Police Fatalities Up 38 Percent This Year

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The deaths of two Las Vegas cops on Sunday raised to 62 the number of law enforcement officers killed this year by gunfire across the country while in the line of duty — a 38-percent increase compared to the same time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

That is a stark contrast to the same time last year, when 45 officers were killed. Even more worrisome is the number of officer fatalities caused by firearms. Twenty-three police officers have been fatally shot this year, the NLEOMF says, compared to just 15 at this time last year.

Spurred by anti-government and white supremacist groups, the group said law enforcement agencies around the country have sounded the alarm, saying the recent Las Vegas shootings highlight the increased potential for police officers to be ambushed.

“This is an alarming trend that we cannot allow to continue,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, who chairs the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence. “We are outraged that more has not already been done to prevent the senseless killings of citizens and law enforcement alike. Our nation must make it a priority to prevent dangerous individuals from acquiring guns and inflicting such grave damage on others. Enough is enough.”

The two cops killed in the Las Vegas shooting were Officer Alyn Beck, 42, who had been with the department since 2001 and leaves behind a wife and three children; and Officer Igor Soldo, 32, who joined the force in 2006 and is survived by a wife and baby.

Meanwhile, the couple suspected in shooting the officers had tried to join the armed standoff against federal agents at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch in April.

Cliven Bundy, 67, has been engaged in a 20-year legal fight over cattle-grazing on federal land. The patriarch of a large Mormon family, Bundy became a conservative folk hero of sorts because of his standoff with the government, but he later drew criticism for his comments that black people were “better off as slaves, picking cotton.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio