With the addition of two cop fatalities reported on Nov. 2 in Iowa, the nationwide tally of police officers killed in ambush-style attacks in the year so far has increased 167% compared to last year, says a law enforcement organization. With two months in the year left remaining, the statistic matches 2014's 16 ambush-style killings, the peak year for such attacks.
In total, 40 police officers have been shot and killed in ambushes since 2014, said Steve Groeninger, a representative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which gathers police fatality numbers, USA Today reports.
Two police officers near Des Moines, Iowa were ambushed and gunned down in the early morning hours of Nov. 2 in separate incidents. While responding to reports of gunfire, Urbandale police officer Justin Martin and Des Moines police Sgt. Anthony "Tony" Beminio were shot and killed in their patrol cars by identified suspect Scott Michael Greene, who remains at large.
According to FBI statistics, from 2004 to 2013, about 11 police officers were killed in ambush-style attacks on average each year. While this category of killings dropped in 2014, premeditated ambush-style attacks began to increase, the LA Times reports.
However, more cop fatalities are reported during pursuits and traffic stops, responses to calls, the serving of search warrants and the investigating of suspicious activity.
"Premeditated ambushes are extremely rare events," said George Fachner, who co-authored a 2015 U.S. Department of Justice study.
The profile of the ambush attacker include black militants, white survivalists, long-time hard-core criminals, people who are allied with the antigovernment "sovereign citizen" movement, and suicidal people who engage in dangerous cop-killing behavior before committing suicide.
The vast majority of ambush attacks on cops are carried out by solitary gunmen, with little forethought or planning, the Justice Department study found.
While most ambush attackers are white males, black men accounted for almost 40% of the 232 ambush cop killings that have taken place since 2002, the study noted. Crime experts link the statistic to increased poverty and deep police resentment in the African American community.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2016, a total of 115 officers have been killed in the line of duty, up 15% from last year.