Nationwide, 173 police officers died in the line of duty, up 13% from 153 the year before, according to numbers as of today. The figures were compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) in its annual report. Unfortunately, New Jersey was not immune to the increase.

NLEOMF senior director of communications, Steve Groeninger says, "What we see in New Jersey is the state suffering 5 officer fatalities thus far in 2011 which is 5 too many in my mind…..In 2011 New Jersey lost 4 officers so we're one higher for the state in 2011."

NLEOMF chairman, Craig Floyd blames the rise on budget cuts like those seen in New Jersey to public safety departments. He cites surveys by police groups that reveal many cut backs on training and delays in upgrading equipment. A Department of Justice (DOJ) report issued in October estimated 10,000 police officers and sheriff's deputies have been laid off within the past year.

Groeninger says, "When you add those factors together they don't come up positive for law enforcement."

"Drastic budget cuts affecting law enforcement agencies across the country have put our officers at grave risk," SAYS Floyd. "At a time when officers are facing a more cold-blooded criminal element and fighting a war on terror, we are cutting vital resources necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of the innocent citizens they protect."

A recent survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found 60% of responding law enforcement agencies had cut back on training, 64% had cut back on buying or upgrading major equipment, and 58% had cut back on buying or upgrading technology. The DOJ report states that by year's end, it is expected that nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff's deputies will have been laid off.

During the past year, more officers were killed in Florida, 14, than in any other state; followed by Texas with 13; New York with 11; and California and Georgia with 10 each. Ten of the officers killed nationwide in 2011 served with federal law enforcement agencies. Seven of the officers who died during the past year served with correctional agencies. Eleven of the 173 fatalities were women. On average, the officers who died in 2011 were 41 years old and had served for 13 years.

The statistics released are based on preliminary data compiled and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2011.

The report, "Law Enforcement Officer Deaths: Preliminary 2011 Report," is available online.