The dangerous job of local and state police officer got more dangerous in 2010, reports Greg Bluestein in the Huffington Post. This year, 160 police officers were killed in the line of duty, compared with 117 last year. That's a 37 percent spike, and many are asking why.
Some contend that with slashed local and state budgets, police have to take on more roles, exposing themselves to unprecedented amounts of danger.
It's useful to remember that some high-crime communities such as Newark, N.J., have even laid off portions of their police departments. In Newark, 13 percent of the force was cut, which amounted to 167 officers. One of the worries is that since these kinds of reductions are big news in local media, that criminals are well aware of the new weak links in policing, and that that in itself could embolden them. Another concern is that overworked officers could be making poor decisions in tense situations which could be making serious injuries a more likely outcome.
Another explanation for the recent increase in officer fatalities comes from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. It's been suggested that as we as a society witness more law enforcement dramas with violent story lines on television that it could be encouraging would-be sociopaths to engage in similar, copy-cat behavior.
There's also the possibility that rough economic times have led to an increase in crime -- and with that increase comes an increased risk to police officers.