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Crime rates are falling all across the US—so why are more police officers dying? That’s “the million-dollar question, and we’re all studying it and trying to figure it out,” the chief of the LAPD tells the Wall Street Journal. This year has seen 130 cops die already nationwide—a 15% jump from the same period in 2010. Fifty-three have been shot, making this the first year more officers have died in shootings than in traffic accidents.
The key is that while violent crime on a whole is down, attacks specifically targeting officers are up. In LA, for example, violent crime has fallen 35% since 2005, yet officers have been assaulted with deadly weapons 130 times this year, a 29% jump from 2010. The LA chief thinks that’s because more policing is happening “at the point of the spear,” meaning officers are confronting criminals during crimes, rather than after them.