The number of police officers killed in the line of duty this year- in Jersey and across the country - has dropped sharply.

Craig Floyd, the Chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington D.C. says, "During the first half of 2012, the number of law enforcement fatalities across the country has dropped 44 percent…It's the first drop in 3 years…We're seeing dramatic decreases in fatalities for law enforcement officers in all categories- traffic related deaths.  There were 21 in the first half of this year, that's down 36 percent from the same time last year.  And the number of officers shot and killed - 19 so far this year- that's 53percent lower than in 2011- so certainly some encouraging news."

So what's causing the drop?

He says, "I think it's a laser like focus on law enforcement safety from the highest levels of government…All the way down to the trainers, the policy makers and certainly the practitioners- the officers on the street who have to go out each and every day and face this very difficult and dangerous job…The bottom line is there is no such thing as a routine assignment.  Every assignment you go on is potentially life threatening, do not ever let your guard down."

Floyd points out during the first half of 2012 New Jersey, fortunately, was spared any law enforcement fatalities.

"And that's from 2 officers who died during the first half of 2011, but unfortunately right after the mid-year mark, New Jersey did lose an officer in the performance of duty, his name is Christopher Reeves - a Millville patrolman - killed in an automobile crash while on duty July 8th."

He adds historically, 56 percent of law enforcement fatalities have been caused by gunfire.

"But over the last 15 years, 13 out of the last 15 years, traffic related incidents were the number one cause of death…We've had twenty one officers killed in traffic related incidents in the first half of the year, compared to 19 who were shot and killed."

Floyd stresses we should realize "that these men and women are out there protecting us while putting their own lives at danger, we owe them all a huge debt of gratitude…And too often, the service and the sacrifices of our officers is taken for granted…I'd encourage everyone to go to our website - and they can learn all about the tremendous heroism, the sacrifice and the service of law enforcement officers across America."