Number of officers killed in line of duty increases in Florida, nationwide

Image 1 of 3

The funeral ritual for a fallen deputy played out in May, in Highlands County, for Deputy William Gentry, with bagpipes, honor guards, and residents in mourning.

"It is sad to lose one of our own," said Donna Smith, a Sebring resident.

That ritual was carried out ten other times in Florida, and 144 times nationwide. Law enforcement deaths reflect their diverse job.

In Gentry's case, he was responding to a dispute among neighbors in Lake Placid. 

In April, two Gilchrist deputies were ambushed as they ate lunch. 

Jacksonville officer Lance Whitaker's cruiser crashed in bad weather

In June, corrections officer Tawanna Marin was hit by a car in Broward County.

In November, Miami Beach police officer Larry Marrero had a medical emergency at headquarters.

"Every one of these represents a lost person," said Steve Groeninger of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund. "A member of a family. A shattered community."

The Fund said after a drop from 171 in 2016 to 129 in 2017, this year's 144 is a 12 percent increase. 

"I do not have a good answer as to why," said Groeninger.

While 144 is slightly below the 10-year average of 151, the fund is concerned because the threat remains. 

Most die by gunfire. From 46 last year to 52 this year. In Clearwater on Wednesday, an officer was shot at while responding to a domestic dispute.

"The rounds [went] through the officer's clothing and narrowly missed his leg," said Chief Daniel Slaughter. "He had three rounds that were within taking his leg out."

The danger is increasing in Florida.

Two died in 2015. Seven in 2016. Ten in 2017. Eleven died in 2018. 

Today, the state released a report saying the deputies who died in Gilchrist were killed by someone who had a long history of hating cops.

The Fund says 15 officers died this year of illnesses they got doing search and rescue operations at Ground Zero after 9/11.