KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)--They lay their lives on the line for us everyday, and an alarming number of police officers are being killed in the line of duty. Since January, 65 police officers have been killed on the job nationwide. Almost half of them died looking down the barrel of a gun. Retired Knoxville police officer, Norman Rickman said, "this year's just been a bad year for law enforcement."
Police Chief David Rausch added, "we don't know what's causing it. We don't know why the violence has stepped up like it has."
According to the National Law Enforcement Agency, deadly gun violence is 80% higher than last year. Rausch said, the city has also seen it's share of violence. "In Knoxville we've seen several officers shot within the last few months."
"Anytime an officer goes on call he's in danger. It doesn't matter what kind of call or traffic stop, domestic violence call. Anytime an officer shows up on call or anytime an officer shows up to talk to somebody they're in danger," Rickman said.
He knows that better than most. He was shot 3 times while on the job.
Rickman said, "people just don't care anymore. The officers are out there trying to do their job and there's not a lot of respect for that anymore from the criminals."
Back in 2001 a gunman shot Rickman in the chest. Then, 3 years ago, while responding to a burglary in North Knoxville he was shot in the chest and back. Emergency surgery saved his life, but not his career. He retired as a result of his injuries.
Rush said, the increased gun violence "is very concerning to all of us in law enforcement."
But what can be done about it?
Rausch said, "we can only train our folks to be prepared. We continue to do that. We continue to make our folks aware. Every time there's an incident, we review it and try to figure out what we can do to keep ourselves safe." And Rickman added, "the justice system probably needs to be a little tougher on some of these guys who carry the guns around."
So the men in blue can continue to protect and serve.