NEW YORK - Across the nation, 2009 was a particularly perilous year for officers involved in gun disputes.
Preliminary statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show the number of working officers killed by gunfire rose more than 20 percent from 2008.
Small spikes have been common over the years. But experts say they are surprised by the number of officers this year who have been specifically targeted.
Those include an officer gunned down in his patrol car while waiting for backup in Penn Hills, Pa., and four near Seattle who were ambushed in a coffee shop.
Police studies professor Eugene O'Donnell at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York says the trend "should be cause for grave concern."