2016 deadliest in five years for police officers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Nassau County deputy was one of 135 officers killed in the line of duty in the United States this year — a number that marks the highest total since 177 officers were killed in 2011.

Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver was died just before Thanksgiving when he was hit by a car while chasing a suspect across a highway.

Of those killed in 2016, seven were Florida officers, including one K-9 officer, according to a report released Thursday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

“Every single time an officer falls, our communities lose so much more than a public servant. We lose a friend, a family members, a loved one… but most of all, we lose heroes who were willing to sacrifice everything to keep us safe,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “That kind of sacrifice isn’t common, but it’s the only reason we become law enforcement officers. These numbers represent true tragedy.”

That tragedy is also affecting the recruitment of new officers, said Florida Police Chiefs Association executive director Amy Mercer.

“We’re hearing from family members of law enforcement officers that they scared. They’re concerned for the life of their family member being in the law enforcement profession,” Mercer said. “When you see a police officer, go up and thank them and let them know you are out their supporting them.”