In-the-line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers jumped 13% in 2011 compared to last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
A total of 173 federal, state and local officers have been killed in the United States, and the year is not quite over yet.
Gunfire accounted for the largest number of deaths, claiming 68 officers. That represents a 15% increase from 2010.
“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement.
“Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day — and the fact that too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them.”