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FBI tries to stem rising death rate of police officers
Updated On: Mar 10, 2018

FBI tries to stem rising death rate of police officers

Austin Police work the scene of a shooting at a Walmart April 6, 2012 where a police officer was shot in the neck and died at the scene. The department identified him as Senior Police Officer Jaime Padron. Padron was responding to a call about a drunk man inside the store around 2:30 a.m., officials said. The suspect attacked the officer as soon as he arrived at the store and Padron didn't have a chance to even pull out his own weapon, police said. (Austin American-Statesman, Deborah Cannon)

Only days ago, a police officer was gunned down in an Austin Walmart parking lot, responding to a seemingly routine call of dealing with a reported drunk.

This death may be part of a disturbing trend uncovered by the FBI: The number of police officers dying at the hands of perpetrators is climbing in the United States.

Texas ranked second in the FBI analysis, with 45 officer deaths between 2001 and 2010. That’s the second-highest, after California, which had 50 officer deaths in that time period. But it appears to be getting worse. In 2011, 72 officers were killed by perpetrators, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008, according to the New York Times.

The 2011 deaths were the first time that more officers were killed by suspects than car accidents, according to data compiled by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The number was the highest in nearly two decades, excluding those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

While a majority of officers were killed in smaller cities, 13 were killed in cities of 250,000 or more. …

The city of Houston lost one officer in 2011, Kevin Scott Will, to vehicular assault.

The Times report says that in many cases the officers were trying to arrest or stop a suspect who had previously been arrested for a violent crime:

That prompted the F.B.I. to change what information it will provide to local police departments, the officials said. Starting this year, when police officers stop a car and call its license plate into the F.B.I.’s database, they will be told whether the owner of the vehicle has a violent history. Through the first three months of this year, the number of police fatalities has dropped, though it is unclear why.

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Christina Dail
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Michael Shumard
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