Rise in police deaths follows rise in guns, professor says

Crime

(NewsNation) — In 2022, 64 law enforcement officers died from gun violence, a 21 percent increase from the previous decade, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.

Of the 64 officers who were killed by guns last year, 11 were ambushed and four were mistakenly or accidentally shot by fellow officers.

New York University law professor and retired NYPD detective Kirk Burkhalter said the increase says something about society as a whole.

“This does track with the general rise that we’ve seen in violent crime. And also the proliferation of handguns in this country is just undeniable,” Burkhalter told NewsNation.

As for police work itself, Burkhalter said it’s hard to say if the job has become inherently more dangerous.

“It’s just always been a very dangerous job. It’s one of the few jobs where, you know, you’re expected to put your life on the line,” he said.

More concerning, Burkhalter said, is the rise in violent crime seen across the country, especially over the past few years.

“The proliferation of shootings that we see across the country all circled back to the proliferation of firearms in this country, which is just at an unprecedented rate,” he said.

Burkhalter said America must examine its gun culture as a matter of safety. That, he said, includes legal firearms.

“Something that’s important to remember is every illegal firearm starts out as a legal firearm. Most of those guns, the overwhelming majority, were legally sold to a person and somehow they find their way into the hands of a person illegally or legally who wants to commit harm,” he said.

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