The number of police officers killed in the United States is up some 14% in 2011, and observers say guns are to blame.
CNN reports that according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 166 cops have been killed so far this year, compared to 146 in all of 2010.
"For the first time in 14 years, firearms-related deaths will outnumber traffic and 'other'-related deaths," said Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the Memorial Fund.
Its report said 62 officers were killed by guns, 60 deaths were traffic-related and 44 deaths were attributed to other causes. Unfortunately this likely will not be the final count.
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In addition to budget cuts, the increase in deaths is being blamed on "a criminal's affinity for violence by gun." Steve Groeninger, senior communications director for the Memorial Fund, said criminals who have previously been in prison get desperate when officers approach them and tend to "shoot their way out of a situation. We're seeing more of that in recent years," he said.
Floyd sees a disturbing trend and fears we could be going back to the bad old days of the 1970s when an average of 229 officers were killed every year.
"I think that we have a strong anti-government sentiment in our country, similar to the 1970s, the deadliest decade in law enforcement," he said. "In the '70s we saw a lot of protests and disrespect for law enforcement officials, and we're seeing the same thing today."