In the wake of the murder of 22-year NYPD veteran Peter Figoski yesterday, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has announced that the number of law enforcement officers across the country who have died in the line of duty is already up 14% over last year. There have been 166 total fatalities so far this year, up from 146 in 2010. And Craig Floyd, Chairman of the fund, says, "For the first time in 14 years, firearms-related deaths will outnumber traffic and 'other'-related deaths." Why the increased death toll. Theories include budget cuts, increasingly violent criminals, and "anti-government" protests.

"These deaths come at a time when we're drastically cutting back on budgets for police departments across the country," Floyd tells CNN. His Communications Director, Stephen G, points too previously incarcerated individuals willing to avoid jail or die trying by shooting their way out of situations. "We're seeing more of that in recent years," says Groeninger. In New York State, 11 officers have been killed so far this year, up from two deaths last year [pdf].

Of course, you can't forget about the dangerous impact of political activism—these protesters share their part of the blame, too. "I think that we have a strong anti-government sentiment in our country, similar to the 1970s, the deadliest decade in law enforcement," says Floyd. "In the '70s we saw a lot of protests and disrespect for law enforcement officials, and we're seeing the same thing today." Indeed, people, especially here in NYC, just don't seem to have as much respect for cops these days. Thank heavens Mayor Bloomberg stepped in and evicted Occupy Wall Street when he did, before more police officers paid the price!