Texas Police Deaths by Firearm Increased 56 Percent in 2016

Ambush-related deaths rose from eight overall to 21.

By Laura Rice & Michael MarksDecember 30, 2016 2:43 pm

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported Friday that 2016 was the deadliest in five years for officers in the line of duty. More than 130 officers across the country lost their lives to firearms while on the job this year, a 56 percent increase from 2015. Texas accounted for 17 of those deaths – the most by far.

The attack on officers in Dallas played its part in those numbers. The data shows ambush-style shootings of officers is way up – from eight such deaths in 2015 to 21 this year.

Officer Joe Gamaldi, second vice president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, says the data is alarming.

“It certainly shows that there’s an added element of violence towards law enforcement,” Gamaldi says. “So when you see numbers like that it is certainly going to make our ears perk up and it certainly means that our officers are on higher alerts than in the past.”

Gamaldi says the police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge were a complete game-changer for the police officer community.

“In the past, we had isolated incidents where an officer was ambushed,” he says. “But when you talk about a mass casualty, it changes everything for us.”

Gamaldi says officers have had to adjust how they purchase body armor – now they need some that will stop rifle rounds. They’re much more aware when covering protests or demonstrations.

Law enforcement is a dangerous job, Gamaldi says, and it always has been.

“Every year is different but I think lately, with some of the rhetoric that has gone out there, it has touched a group of people that were maybe unstable to being with and now these people are choosing to take their violence out on police officers.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.