The shooting of Sgt. Craig Bier marked the 10th time an NYPD officer took a bullet in 2012 -- a toll that's higher than the previous four years combined.
Nine officers were shot between 2008 and 2011, according to the NYPD and City Councilman Peter Vallone, who monitors police shooting statistics as chair of the council's Public Safety Committee.
Vallone joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg in calling on the federal government to crack down on illegal weapons they say not only arm criminals, but empower them to take on law enforcement. "How many more shootings have to happen before we do something to stop the guns?" said Vallone (D-Astoria).
During a news conference Thursday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he couldn't give a specific reason for the "spike" in violence against officers, but Vallone believes it stems from the NYPD's diminished strength. The force has 35,000 officers, down from 45,000 in 2001.
"It's clear we don't have enough cops, and there are more criminals on the streets," said Vallone, noting that all of this year's cop shootings were in neighborhoods with prevalent drug problems.
The last NYPD officer to die in a shooting is Det. Peter J. Figoski, 47, of West Babylon, on Dec. 12. Although all of the NYPD shooting victims this year have survived, the mayor said the trend is becoming a grave concern, especially in light of recent mass shootings.
Kelly agreed. "There are too many guns and too many people willing to use those guns," he said. "We need the community's help and need to know who is using those guns."