Line of duty deaths last year hit 177, and the manner of death has seen a switch from mostly traffic accidents leading the way to gunfire. Alton Police Chief David Hayes says it is disturbing because of what he sees an increased willingness by criminals to ambush police.
Hayes says an incident in St. Louis last year in which a U.S. Marshal was killed brought to light some issues law enforcement deals with on a regular basis,
There is a national initiative to reduce the number of deaths, and it includes several guidelines, the most important of which include wearing seatbelts, slowing down, and making sure they are wear their body armor. In 1974, the all-time high year for officer deaths, 278 were killed in the line of duty.