For the third year in a row, the number of law enforcement officers killed feloniously in the line of duty has increased, according to FBI data released this week.
The number has increased by at least seven every year since 2008, when there were 41 reported deaths.
Seventy-two were killed in 2011, an increase of 16 from the previous year, according to the the FBI’s preliminary report Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2011.
The full report will be available this fall.
Two of those killed in 2011 were Augusta-area officers.
Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy J.D. Paugh was gunned down while checking on a suspicious vehicle Oct. 23.
Aiken Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson was shot Dec. 20 while on a traffic stop outside Pace’s Run Apartments.
Aiken Public Safety lost another officer when Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers was shot Jan. 28 while checking on a suspicious vehicle.
The South had the highest number of officers killed in 2011.
Statistically, the South always has a higher number of victims, which the FBI attributes to being its the nation’s most populous region.
Last year, 29 officers were killed in the South, 21 in the Midwest and 10 each in the West and Northeast.
Two were killed in Puerto Rico.
An additional 50 officers were killed in accidents, a decrease from 72 deaths in 2010.
The announcement came at the beginning of National Police Week. In 1962, President Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week.
Thousands of officers traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to honor colleagues who died in the line of duty.
Many from the Augusta area made the trip to honor Paugh and Richardson.
Ten of the 122 officer deaths were in Georgia, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. South Carolina had four.
According to the initial report, 19 officers were killed during ambushes, five while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, 11 in traffic stops, five during robberies and four during disturbance calls.
In 63 of the cases, firearms were used. Of the 72 victims, 49 were wearing body armor.