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Law Enforcement Officer Deaths Up for 2016

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Nationally, 67 federal, state, and local officers were killed on the job during the first half of 2016. (Greg Matthews/Flickr)
Nationally, 67 federal, state, and local officers were killed on the job during the first half of 2016. (Greg Matthews/Flickr)
 By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI, Contact
July 29, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - The recent ambush attack that killed five Dallas, Texas, police officers contributed to a spike in deaths of those across the country who are sworn to serve and protect their communities.

A biannual review from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund shows as of July 20, a total of 67 federal, state and local law enforcement officers died on the job, an 8 percent increase from the same time period in 2015.

The report says firearm deaths in the line of duty are up 78 percent compared with 2015.

Craig Floyd, president and CEO of the Memorial Fund, explained three officers lost their lives in Michigan, including a deputy who died in a freak accident.

"Michael Winter served in Branch County, Michigan, with the Sheriff's office," said Floyd. "He was actually thrown from his horse on a Memorial Day parade, suffered fatal injuries and died a day after that tragic accident."

In addition, Michigan court bailiffs Joseph Zangaro and Ron Kienzle were shot after an inmate grabbed a deputy's gun outside a holding cell at a courthouse.

Floyd notes what's especially troubling is that fatal ambushes of officers jumped more than 300 percent, with 14 ambush killings this year compared with three during the same period in 2015.

It's no secret that tensions are high between law enforcement and communities around the nation, given the high-profile, police-involved shooting deaths around the country in recent years. Floyd contends that people need to work with law enforcement to build safer communities.

"Law enforcement is clearly focused on the top priority which is where trust has been lost to restore that trust, to strengthen the partnership between law enforcement and the citizens that they serve," he added.

The Memorial Fund is building the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

Floyd believes once it's open in 2018, the museum will help bridge the gap by hosting conversations between police and community leaders.

"Together with these discussions that will occur there, with the learning that will occur in that museum, we'll do better as a profession, working with the community to keep America safe," he said.

Nationally, 32 officers were killed in an incident involving a firearm, and there were 24 traffic-related fatalities. The most fatalities occurred in Texas, with 11 officers killed, followed by seven officer deaths in Louisiana.

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