Las Vegas, Nevada (CBS LAS VEGAS) — The deaths of two Las Vegas policemen in last Sunday’s shootings increased the number of law enforcement officers killed this year in the line of duty to 63 – a nearly 40 percent increase from the same time last year.
Total law enforcement fatalities have seen a spike this year: 63 deaths this year compared to 45 at this time in 2013 — a 37 percent increase, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Twenty-three of the on-duty police deaths were due to firearm-related incidents. By comparison, there were 15 shooting-related deaths by June 15 of last year, a 53 percent increase.
Previously, the overall number of police officer fatalities had been on a steady decline since 2011, with 2013 seeing the lowest number of deaths on-duty since 1959, with only 111.
“This is an alarming trend that we cannot allow to continue,” Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, who chairs the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, told WPVI-TV. “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 policemen killed in the Las Vegas shooting were Officer Alyn Beck, 42, who had been with the department since 2001. Officer Igor Soldo, 32, who joined the force in 2006, was also fatally wounded.
“We’ve had some good years and right now we’re in a bad one,” Richard Beary, vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told Fox News. “In general, we’re seeing more violence in society and that violence in society leads to violence against police officers.”
Beary stated that central Florida is seeing an unusually violent year for law enforcement, with two officers killed since February.
“These officers had no idea somebody was going to kill cops and it’s a terrible situation and a tragedy,” Beary told Fox News.
And while Beary said that the IACP is in favor of stronger background checks for gun purchases, he conceded that it is nearly impossible to prevent or predict attacks on law enforcement officials when many shooters show no respect for the law or life.
“One of the biggest challenges that all of us have is if somebody is set on taking their own life, they’re not afraid of taking another person’s life,” Beary said. “I think that’s what we’re seeing in a lot of these cases, where they murder and then commit suicide.”