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Officers' death rate drops but how long will that hold out?
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During the last two decades, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty had been on distinct downward trend. According to a recently-released study by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 162 officers were killed during 2010, representing a 40 percent increase from 2009.

The number of incidents in which firearms were used to kill law enforcement officers rose 20 percent in 2010 as compared to 2009, which points to the trend of greater violence. However, traffic collisions continue to be the number one killer of officers.

Some people question why such a small percentage, "only" 162 officers killed out of the almost 800,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. is an issue? Most people view the killing of a law enforcement officer as a very serious matter, but some people figure that law enforcement personnel knowingly take the risk of losing their lives by being in the profession. The term "law enforcement officer" describes a whole range of local, county, state and federal personnel with some form of law enforcement authority including: city police, deputy sheriffs, game wardens, corrections officers, fire marshals, FBI agents, U.S. marshals, and a variety of other specialized positions who enforce the law but are generally not in the public eye.

Since 2003, 4,400 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, which compared to the fewer than 200 officers killed each year in the same time period, may seem like an unfair comparison. Interestingly, however, in 2010, the number of soldiers killed in Iraq dropped dramatically to approximately 60, while 162 police officers were killed here in America.

There is no difference between the value of the lives of American soldiers and our law enforcement officers protecting us on the home front. Law enforcement officers are, by their very nature, peacekeepers. They are intended as an intervention between people doing harm to each other. And while officers are trained to use force, even deadly force when circumstances warrant, their roles in society were not to be fighters or warriors in the same way we see our military soldiers. But, times are changing, and with the proliferation of violent gangs and increased attacks against the police, law enforcement as a whole must adapt and take measures to better protect themselves better from threats. It is arguable that law enforcement has to become more military-like when it comes to using equipment and tactics to thwart attacks against them, especially when they are being carried out by military-trained gang members and other criminals. The police are still peacekeepers by design and practice, but they have had to adapt to the greater threats they now face.

The number of law enforcement officers killed is the most symbolic of the dangers of this profession, but another significant indicator is the number of injuries suffered by officers each year. The number is staggering and very costly to the employing agencies and the taxpayers. With shrinking state and local budgets, more and more early-release parolees on our streets, and current crime trends, police officers are doing more with less. As a society, we should be hopeful that this alarming trend is not the result of governmental financial hardships. We need to be prepared to do what is necessary if the violence against our peacekeepers continues to increase.