HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — Two officers slain during a traffic stop in Mississippi over the weekend add to a grim tally. In shootings thousands of miles apart, under different circumstances, at least 10 law enforcement officers have been killed so far this year nationwide. Thousands more face the same dangers and unknowns.
Last year, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty increased, according to the Washington-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The nonprofit group found that 126 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2014, compared with 102 the year before. Those numbers include a variety of incidents, including illness, accidents — and shootings.
The number killed by firearms last year was 50, a rise from 32 the year before, according to the group.
“This is just a constant reminder … of the dangers of police work in this country,” said Cedric Alexander, police chief in DeKalb County, Georgia. “We can never ever forget the dangers and what they put on the line for us every day. They deserve our support.”
So far this year, 42 law enforcement officers have died in various incidents, including traffic-related deaths, the NLEOMF says.
The deaths come amid high tensions following a series of fatal shootings nationwide of unarmed African-American men by police officers. Protesters have taken to the streets to express outrage over the killings. But Alexander says officers don’t have it easy.
“Across this country right now, police are being questioned about the way that they do their jobs, but we can never ever forget the dangers and what they put on the line for us every day,” he said.
Here are officers who died at the hands of violent suspects this year, starting with the most recent. They all occurred between March and May.
Officer Liquori Tate:
Since he was a little boy, Tate loved police cars and their flashing lights. After going to community college and briefly working at an auto parts store, he decided to pursue his passion and become a police officer.
Tate graduated from the police academy last year and jumped right into his new job.
“He had this enthusiasm, this fire in his soul,” said his father, Ronald Tate. “He really knew the risk, but I think my son just thought people … are generally good people, so let’s treat them all with dignity.”
Tate, 24, was making a traffic stop Saturday evening in Hattiesburg when he was fatally shot, along with his fellow officer Benjamin Deen.
Officer Benjamin Deen: The married father of two was a K-9 officer who earned his department’s Officer of the Year honors three years ago, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi.
Deen and Tate were rushed to the hospital, but did not survive. Authorities say the suspects fled the scene, allegedly using a police cruiser as a getaway car. Police arrested four people.
Sgt. Greg Moore:
The veteran police officer was the son of a retired captain and beloved in his community. His fatal shooting left residents mourning and fellow police officers holding a vigil at the hospital.
Moore served with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department for 16 years. He was shot after he stopped a “suspicious male” at a traffic stop on May 5. A resident heard the gunshot and called for help. The suspect, who was later arrested, allegedly stole Moore’s car and led authorities on a high-speed chase.
He was a father and a husband.
The son and nephew of police officers had always wanted to join the New York Police Department. When he finally did, he did not take long to stand out.
“In his very brief career — less than five years — he had already proved himself to be an exceptional young officer,” New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
Moore was sitting in an unmarked police vehicle in Queens on May 2, along with his partner, when they saw a passerby adjusting something in his waistband, authorities said. He pulled up behind the man to ask about it. The suspect allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband and opened fire on both officers.
They were in the car and had no chance to fire back. His partner, Erik Jansen, survived.
Moore, 25, died at the hospital a few days later. Thousands of officers in blue came to his funeral.
The 21-year-old was on his first solo assignment as a state trooper on March 24, after taking his oath in December.
In his short time on the force, he loved his job. So much so that anytime Capt. Anthony Burrell asked him if he was having fun, his answer was always “I sure am!”
Casper was killed while chasing a bank robbery suspect in Fond du Lac. Gunfire rang out while the trooper was pursuing a car that matched the description of one used in the crime.
“He truly believed his sole purpose in life was to serve and protect others,” his family said.
The veteran officer was killed while responding to a report of a man threatening to kill himself on March 24, the same day Casper was killed in Wisconsin.
When officers arrived at the scene in San Jose, they were met with gunfire. Johnson was a 14-year veteran. The suspect was also found dead on his balcony with a gunshot wound, authorities said.
Alex Kee Yazzie:
The Navajo police officer was killed during a shootout with a suspect near the Arizona-New Mexico state line on March 19. Officers pursued the suspect following a report that he was holding a family hostage. The suspect was also killed.
Yazzie had been a police officer for 14 years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The 27-year-old was killed March 10 while serving an arrest warrant on a murder suspect at a motel in Baton Rouge.
Wells, a deputy marshal, had served with the U.S. Marshals Service for four years. His wife was expecting their first child.
The father was killed while buying a video game for his son on March 5.
Wilson, a Philadelphia police officer for eight years, was in the store when two men attempted to rob it. He exchanged fire with them and was shot and killed. Both men were arrested.
“He fought until the very, very end, firing at both of them,” police spokesman Capt. James Clark said.
The veteran police detective was killed in an ambush shooting after he responded to a call of shots fired.
The incident occurred when police were searching a neighborhood in the Atlanta suburb of Fairburn after reports of gunfire from a suspect’s home.
Green, 48, was shot in the head. A second officer was shot in the hip, but suffered no injuries because the bullet hit his radio, police said.
CNN’s Catherine Shoichet, Ray Sanchez and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.