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Study: Officer deaths up by more than 20 percent

126 line of duty deaths in 2014

Mary Strey of Granton, Wisc., got behind the wheel of her car in 2010 after consuming numerous brandy and Cokes at neighborhood bars, but soon realized she couldn't drive. So she called 911 on herself. "Somebody's really drunk driving down Granton Road," she reported. "Are you behind them?" the dispatcher asked. "No," the woman replied, "I am them."
Mary Strey of Granton, Wisc., got behind the wheel of her car in 2010 after consuming numerous brandy and Cokes at neighborhood bars, but soon realized she couldn't drive. So she called 911 on herself. "Somebody's really drunk driving down Granton Road," she reported. "Are you behind them?" the dispatcher asked. "No," the woman replied, "I am them."

SAN ANTONIO – The number of law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty this year jumped by more than 20 percent, according to a new study released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

"126 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013," the report said.

The 24 percent increase snaps a two-year streak of dramatic declines in officer fatalities.

"It is a sobering statistic," said SAPD spokesman Sgt. Javier Salazar. "We do know that danger and death is inherent to police work. It's something we're always cautious of."

Of the 126 deaths, 50 were gun-related. That is a 56 percent increase from 2013. Fifteen of those fatalities came in ambush-style attacks, like the recent murders of two New York police officers who were shot while they sat in their patrol car.

Salazar said SAPD uses such incidents as a teaching tool.

"Many times, we take individual incidents like what we saw in New York recently and we will actively try to recreate those in a training environment to see what can be learned," he said.

The second leading cause of officer fatalities was traffic-related incidents. The 49 officers killed this year represents an 11-percent increase from last year.

Another 24 officers lost their lives due to job-related illnesses this year.

Texas is second only to California for the state with the most line-of-duty fatalities.

In 2011, officer fatalities spiked to 171 deaths, leading to a host of new initiatives and policy changes to improve officer safety.

"A lot of our training is predicated on whats happening nationally. We're teaching them to  be aware of their surroundings, their tactics, and the way they approach a situation," said San Antonio Police Officers Association President Michael Helle. "Unfortunately we have to learn from other people's mistakes and their deaths."