A new report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that the number of law enforcement officers killed on the job in 2014 increased by almost a quarter compared with the previous year.
126 officers were killed in 2014, compared with 102 in 2013. Ambushes were the leading cause of gun deaths — three times as many officers died in ambushes this year compared with last year. However that number is equal to the number of officers killed in ambushes in 2012.
This year's report comes amid increased tensions between police officers and communities after the deaths of unarmed black men by white police officers and the ambush killings of two NYPD officers.
But Craig Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, tells Here & Now's Lisa Mullins that the majority of people who kill law enforcement officers are anti-government vigilantes.
"Fifteen of those officers who were gunned down were killed in ambush style attacks," Floyd said. "This is the highest figure we've seen since 1995, and I think, unfortunately, that it's reflective of an anti-government sentiment that's been prevalent here in America for sometime now."
Floyd notes that these ambushes have been the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers for five years in a row — who pose visible targets.
"Who is the most visible, the most vulnerable symbol of government in America? It's the law enforcement officers patrolling our streets," Floyd said.
Floyd says that better mental health services might be one aspect of improving officers' safety, saying that a number of the people who kill officers are mentally unstable.
"Mental illness is a real problem in this country," Floyd said. "And when they have access to firearms, that's a deadly mix."
This segment aired on December 31, 2014.