Despite spike in officer shootings, officer deaths on downward trend

A member of the Dallas Police Choir passes the portraits of five fallen officers prior to a memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, in Dallas. Five police officers were killed and several injured during a shooting in downtown Dallas last Thursday night. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Caption
A member of the Dallas Police Choir passes the portraits of five fallen officers prior to a memorial service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, in Dallas. Five police officers were killed and several injured during a shooting in downtown Dallas last Thursday night. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Credit: Eric Gay

Credit: Eric Gay

Video includes clips from CNN, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, WFAA and WAFB via CNN and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM.

Thirty-three law enforcement officers have died due to gunfire so far this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The site says that's a 94 percent increase in officer gunfire deaths from this time last year.

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Increased coverage and varying statistics on officer deaths have dominated news in the past months.

In July alone, 13 officers died due to gunfire, compared to just one in July last year.

On July 7, five officers in Dallas working a peaceful protest of recent officer-involved shootings died after a gunman opened fire. Just a week later in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police said a gunman ambushed officers and killed three of them.

With all the coverage of the recent tragic shootings, some people might think officer deaths are on the rise -- but over the last three-plus decades, officer deaths have been declining.

The Washington Post looked at data from the Officer Down Memorial Page and took out accidents, illnesses and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from its report.

An average of 101 police officers died annually in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. The number has fallen during each subsequent administration, with 90 police fatalities annually during George H.W. Bush's administration, 81 during Bill Clinton's and 72 during Georgia W. Bush's. During the Obama administration, an average of 62 officers have died each year from 2009 to 2015.

So, yes, there has been a dramatic increase in officer gunfire deaths so far in 2016. Hopefully, that one-year spike will be an outlier in the overall trend.