iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of law enforcement officers killed in ambush-style attacks has increased dramatically this year, according to a report issued today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a finding its spokesperson called "especially troubling."
Sixty-seven law enforcement officers died in the line of duty this year as of July 20 -- a small increase from 62 deaths in the same period last year, according to the report. But of this year's 67 deaths, 32 were firearms-related -- which is a 78 percent spike from last year, when 18 deaths were firearms-related.
And of this year's 32 firearms-related deaths, almost half -- 14 -- were the result of eight ambush-style attacks against unsuspecting officers, according to the report. At this time last year there had been just three ambush deaths.
Forty-six officers were killed as a result of a criminal act so far this year, the report said -- double last year's number of 23. The criminal-related deaths this year were from shootings, traffic-related incidents, a beating, and an officer who died from illness contracted from 9/11 rescue and recovery work.
Texas has had the most officer fatalities with 13, followed by Louisiana with seven, in the wake of deadly, targeted attacks on officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this month.
In Baton Rouge, three officers were killed on July 17 by a gunman who "intentionally targeted and assassinated" cops, according to police. The attack followed the death of Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot and killed during an altercation with Baton Rouge police officers on July 5. Protesters took to the streets nationwide after video surfaced of the encounter, which was followed the next day by a video of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, another black man, in Minnesota.
The Baton Rouge attack was also 10 days after the killing of five officers in Dallas by a gunman who reportedly said he was angry at police.
In all of 2015, there were eight deadly ambushes, said Steve Groeninger, senior director of communications and marketing of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and in all of 2014 there were 15.
"We're halfway through the year and already at 14," Groeninger said, calling the increase of ambushes "especially troubling."
And while Groeninger said the mass ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge are "terribly relevant," he added, "there have been other officer ambushes in the first half of the year." One was 28-year-old police officer Ashley Guindon, who was shot dead while on her first shift after being sworn in at the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia in February.
Despite what Groeninger points out to be an alarming 78 percent firearms-related spike from last year, he said this isn't the deadliest time ever for cops -- another dangerous year was in 1973, when at the midway point of the year, 84 officers had been shot and killed.
But police throughout the country are certainly on edge today, and deadly danger for police extends beyond ambushes. While ambushes made up 14 of the 32 firearms-related deaths, other firearms deaths were by incidents including handling prisoners and stopping a suspicious person, the report noted.
Of the non-firearms-related deaths, 24 were traffic related and 11 were from other causes, the report said.
Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told ABC News that officer safety in the current climate can very difficult to achieve. He said some departments are taking "steps to try to keep officers safe in this current environment," like dual patrols. He said it's also been suggested that officers not write reports in their cars in the open and not eat in restaurants, instead returning to their stations.
Cunningham called it "really unfortunate" that "in a time we need to connect most with the community," these potential steps are "driving a wedge between the community and the police."
"Those [community interactions] are the interactions we need right now, and unfortunately that's being lost," Cunningham said.
Cunningham also gave insight into the mindset of police officers. He said officers are often responding to "people's worst day," and while citizens may think they are the only call that officer is responding to, the officer is really going to "call after call after call."
The tension is "palpable out there," he said, "and this cumulative effect of stress and trauma on the officers ... is something we have to deal with as a profession."
ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) -- The mother of one of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting made an emotional plea from the stage of the Democratic National Convention as she called for commonsense gun policies.
Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher Leinonen, told how her son and his boyfriend were among the 49 victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
She recalled that when Christopher was born, she was a Michigan state trooper and the hospital put her gun away as she prepared to give birth.
“When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn't argue," she said. "I know commonsense gun policies save lives.”
“I'm glad commonsense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born," Leinonen said. "But where was that common sense the day he died?”
Leinonen told how her son was an award-winning humanitarian who had started a gay-straight alliance at his high school.
“Christopher's paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp. So, it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate,” she said.
Leinonen spoke to ABC News in the hours that immediately followed the Orlando shooting, when at the time she did not know the fate of her son.
"Please, let's all just get along," Leinonen said while gasping for breath. "We're on this earth for such a short time. Let's try to get rid of the hatred and the violence, please!"
Among others who gave emotional testimonies on gun violence were former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 and survived, and Erica Smegielski, daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal, Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in a mass shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, school in 2012.
Giffords spoke briefly, calling for the election of Hillary Clinton because "in Congress, I learned a powerful lesson: Strong women get things done."
"Speaking is difficult for me," Giffords said. "But come January I want to say these two words: Madam President."
Both Giffords and Smegielski campaigned for Clinton ahead of the convention, and Smegielski said that one reason she feels passionately about Clinton's bid is because the candidate reminds her of her mother.
"What we need is another mother who is willing to do what's right, whose bravery can live up in equal measure to my mom's," Smegielski told the assembled delegates tonight. "What we need is to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th president of the United States of America so that no other daughter ever has to say, 'I would give every single day that I have left for just one more day with my mom.'"
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Prosecutors in Baltimore dropped all charges against the three remaining Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray despite holding firm in their belief that Gray's death was a homicide.
“We do not believe that Gray killed himself. We stand by the medical examiner's determination that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide," Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby told reporters Wednesday morning, delivering a strong defense for her decision to prosecute six officers involved in Gray's death.
At the motion’s hearing for State v Garrett Miller Wednesday morning, prosecutors announced they would not pursue the remaining cases related to the arrest and death of Gray, bringing to an end one of the most closely watched police prosecutions in the country. The gag order against all parties involved, including prosecutors and defense attorneys and their clients, has also been rescinded.
“After much thought and prayer it has become clear that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether cases proceed in front of a judge or jury, without communal oversight of police in this community, without substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it and we would still end up with the same result," Mosby said, standing across the street from the location where Gray was arrested in April 2015.
Mosby charged six officers last year for their role in the arrest and death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody after he suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in the back of a police transport van. Prosecutors aimed to show that the officers were criminally liable for failing to secure Gray with a seat belt after he was loaded into a police transport van.
Gray died seven days after sustaining injuries in police custody. On the day of Gray's funeral, the city of Baltimore erupted into violent protests and riots, followed by looting and arson.
“Those that believe that I’m anti-police, that is simply not the case, I am anti-police brutality," Mosby said, adding that she was elected as chief prosecutor for Baltimore City and took an oath to seek justice.
"I take my oath very seriously," Mosby said.
But prosecutors failed to convict four officers who were tried in separate trials earlier this year. All three officers who were acquitted opted for a bench trial instead of a jury trial, meaning Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams decided the outcome of the trials.
Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty of all charges in May. Officer Caesar Goodson, who faced the most serious charge of second-degree depraved heart murder, was also found not guilty earlier this summer. And Lieutenant Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer involved with the case, was cleared of all charges just two weeks ago.
Officer William Porter stood trial first and had chosen a jury trial. His trial ended in a mistrial last December.
All of the officers involved in the case had pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors failed to prove in court that Nero, Goodson and Rice acted in a grossly negligent manner and that they were aware of the risks to Gray and acted unreasonably.
They were also unable to prove that the officers "corruptly" failed to carry out an act required of them. Throughout the trials, prosecutors tried honing in on each officer's experience and training, suggesting that they should have known the consequences of failing to secure a shackled prisoner without a seat belt.
Williams was oftentimes incredulous throughout the officers' trials, determining that prosecutors failed to bring any credible evidence into court that could prove that criminal wrongdoing had occurred when Gray was arrested and placed into the back of a police transport van.
During Nero's case in May, Williams grilled prosecutors during closing arguments — questioning whether a crime was in fact committed.
“So, every time there’s an arrest without probable justification — it is a crime?” Williams asked. “I’m trying to make sure it was a criminal assault. Touching Freddie Gray is assault?”
“We believe that the search and arrest without justification are assault, your honor,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe responded. “There’s no question about that.”
Mosby said despite the acquittals from Williams, "We must respect the verdict rendered by the judge," and that her goal all along was to "always seek justice over convictions."
The White House/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — John Hinckley, Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, has been granted "full-time convalescent leave" and will be released from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he has been in treatment.
A federal judge granted the leave, which will begin as early as Aug. 5, according to court documents. He is permitted to reside full-time in Williamsburg, Virginia, with his mother at her home, and his monitoring conditions were set by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of Washington.
Hinckley's freedoms have been incremental while he has been under the care of St. Elizabeth's Hospital for more than 34 years. The judge determined that he no longer poses a danger to himself or others, and that he has "displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, exhibited no violent behavior, [and] shown no interest in weapons," and subsequently ended his institutionalization.
While he lives full-time in Williamsburg, Hinckley is subject to certain conditions, and he will return for monthly outpatient therapy treatment in Washington. He will also be required to work or volunteer three times a week and participate in individual music therapy sessions at least once a month in Williamsburg.
Hinckley was ordered to stay out of contact with Jodie Foster, as it was said he shot Reagan as a way to impress the Hollywood actor and he was obsessed with her after watching the film "Taxi Driver" over and over, as the judge detailed in his court document determining Hinckley’s release. He must also stay away from the media and cannot make posts on the internet or access it. He is not allowed to contact his victims and their families, the president or vice president of the United States, and all members of Congress.
After a full year to 18 months of his leave, his doctors will complete an updated risk assessment and will then adjust his treatment plans if it is warranted, according to court documents.
Whenever he is away from his mother's residence, he must carry a GPS-enabled cell phone that is monitored by the Secret Service. He is not allowed to drive unaccompanied and may only drive within a 30-mile radius of Williamsburg, unless it is for the purpose of his monthly scheduled appointments in Washington, D.C. He is also required to abstain from alcohol and drugs. He is not allowed to own a weapon.
As part of his release, Hinckley must complete a daily log of his activities while on leave that detail any of his work or volunteer hours, plus social interactions and treatments, and any errands or recreational activities.
Hinckley was 25 when he wounded Reagan, shot press secretary James Brady, U.S. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty. Brady was left paralyzed but all of those shot survived the attack.
A federal jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity in June 1982. Hinckley’s attorney has argued to release Hinckley from his confinement for more than a decade, and continually citing evaluations by officials at St. Elizabeth’s to prove he was no longer a threat.
Reagan died in 2004 after suffering from Alzheimer’s, and his living relatives, including his children, have opposed Hinckley's release. However, in a tweet posted Wednesday, Reagan's son Michael seemed to urge forgiveness.
In a statement, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute disagreed with the judge's decision.
"John Hinckley is responsible for the shooting of President Reagan and three other brave men. One died two years ago from the wounds he received. Contrary to the judge's decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release."
iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Eight hikers were led to safety after a raging wildfire in northern California stranded them for at least five days, officials said.
A Cal Fire spokesperson said this was not technically a “rescue” as the hikers, who had been near the massive Soberanes fire in Monterey County for at least five days, were given the option to stay or leave, and they chose to walk down from the fire with firefighters.
The hikers were not injured and in fine condition, the spokesperson said. Once they walked down they were were given food and water at a Boy Scouts camp.
The Soberanes fire in Monterey County started on July 22 and has since burned 23,500 acres. It's 10 percent contained.
Meanwhile, a second massive blaze is raging in southern California; the Sand fire has covered 38,000 acres in the Los Angeles area and is 40 percent contained.
The two fires prompted states of emergency to be declared Tuesday in Monterey County and Los Angeles County.
Conner Golden's GoFundMe page(NEW YORK) — A college student who was injured by an explosive device in New York's Central Park earlier this month has returned home and is recovering, his family said this week.
Connor Golden of Fairfax, Virginia, was climbing rocks in the park on July 3 with friends when the explosion badly mangled a portion of his left foot, resulting in the removal of his lower left leg and foot.
Golden, 19, had been recovering in a New York City's Bellevue Hospital for the last few weeks.
"The Golden family is deeply grateful to the health care professionals in New York who cared for Connor and to the many individuals who made the family’s stay in New York as comfortable as possible," according to a statement released by his family on Golden's GoFundMe page.
The family has already raised more than $60,000 toward its $75,000 goal.
The NYPD believes the explosive had originally failed to detonate and was discarded, only to be accidentally discovered by Golden.
Police said there's no indication the blast was terrorism-related.
NYPD is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for the arrest and indictment of the individual or parties responsible.
Courtesy: Levi Bohanan(NEW YORK) — At 13, Levi Bohanan was homeless, fending for himself as a young, adolescent boy.
"The biggest fight every day wasn’t how I was going to survive, it was deciding whether or not I wanted to," Bohanan, now 23, tells ABC News.
His parents kicked him out of the house because he is gay.
"Struggling to survive was a constant battle, but having your entire support system, your entire family, stripped from you so quickly and so completely -- it's an experience I will never be able to fully and accurately articulate," Bohanan said.
Now, Bohanan is working alongside the nation's top education experts at the U.S. Department of Education -- as a special projects manager in the office of the Secretary -- which issued federal guidelines Wednesday for states and school districts across the country to better serve students without a permanent home as part of federal legislation that was signed into law last year by President Obama. These guidelines will become mandatory on Oct. 1, 2016.
Homeless students are among the nation’s most vulnerable. There are about 1.3 million in the U.S., according to federal data gathered during the 2013-2014 school year.
“In my experience, this is an unprecedented effort to really shine a light on what homeless students are facing,” said Barbara Duffield, director of policy and programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, an organization working in tandem with the Department of Education.
The guidelines include prioritizing the identification of homeless students, including designating and training a “school liaison” within each district to help provide students with professional development and college readiness.
The guidelines also help ensure coordination with various groups, like law enforcement, juvenile and family courts, mental health groups, and public housing agencies.
"As a person who experienced homelessness when I was a kid, these efforts in particular strike a chord because they’re efforts that would’ve impacted me while I was in school," Bohanan said. "These supports and many more would’ve eased some of the burdens I experienced, as I know they’ll ease some of the burdens homeless students experience now."
It's a subject that hits close to home not just for Bohanan, but also for his boss, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.
"As a kid, home was a scary and unpredictable place for me and I moved around a lot after my parents passed away," King said. "I know from my own experience and from my conversations with homeless students that school can save lives."
According to the Department of Education, homeless students experience significant academic, social, and socio-emotional challenges, and often experience lower school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.
In addition, students who experience high mobility and attend many different schools over the course of their education often slip academically with each move.
This rings true for Elio Velazquez, 20, who was still at a second-grade reading level at the age of 10. He said his mother was a teenage single parent, and lost her job. They became homeless when he was just four years old and they were forced to move several times while she looked for work, shifting from the streets to various homeless shelters.
“I was the underdog my entire life,” Velazquez said. “I would sit in the hallways of my apartment building and do homework on the staircase so I had some light. And when my sister got sick, I had to miss about two weeks of school because my mom couldn't afford to miss work. I fell behind in school.”
Of the new guidelines, Velazquez says, "I do commend the Department of Education's effort towards resolving this issue. I think this is a great start to helping students attain a proper education without their economic background becoming a detrimental barrier to their success."
Under the new guidelines, students who are older and have moved often will be able to receive partial credit for work they’ve completed in other schools.
“Homeless students have absences beyond their control, so they fall behind on their credits,” Duffield said. “They feel real discouragement to stay in school because they’ve fallen behind, and sometimes think, ‘why bother?'"
Velazquez struggled to thrive in a broken home on the streets of New York City, and at one point, was commuting three hours to and from school to attend classes in a more affluent neighborhood. But he too, like Bohanan, beat the odds, and eventually graduated second in his class from high school. Then, with financial assistance, he headed to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, to study business, global studies, philosophy, and economics.
“Public schools have a critical, critical role in responding to these issues,” Duffield said. “Schools will see things that the community may not be able to see because homeless students really are an invisible population.”
"Education changed the course of my life," Bohanan said. But life as a homeless student, he said, is something he will never forget.
"It’s something that I think about every day," he said. 'Fending for yourself day to day, not having parents at your high school graduation, not being able to share holidays with your family, that changes the way you pass through the world."
Bohanan continued, "Every day I bring my experiences to the table and I seek to be intentional with the opportunities and access I have. It’s a constant reminder that the policies that we work on at the Department are not nebulous, theoretical, pieces that are out of touch with reality. They actually impact the lives of students every single day, and for the better."
U.S. Coast Guard(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Coast Guard released video Wednesday morning of the rescue of several dozen crew members from a capsizing fishing vessel located almost 700 miles from Alaskan shores.
Good Samaritan vessels reached the scene first and rescued 46 people Tuesday night. The crew had abandoned their sinking trawler in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea near Alaska's Aleutian Islands, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson.
There were no reports of any injuries.
U.S. Coast Guard
The video shows crew members being transferred from life rafts to nearby merchant ships.
"The 220-foot fishing vessel Alaska Juris began taking on water near Kiska Island," said Steenson. "All 46 crew members were transferred to good Samaritan vessels Spar Canis and Vienna Express to be transported to Adak, Alaska."
The ships then embarked on a 13-hour voyage to Adak, a port in the Aleutians.
Steenson said the cause of the vessel taking on water is under investigation.
City of Iowa City(IOWA CITY, Iowa) — Police released bodycam footage showing an encounter last week between a black University of Iowa football player and officers who were looking for a robbery suspect.
The video was released Tuesday and shows defensive end Faith Ekakitie being stopped and searched by police in Benton Hill Park in Iowa City on July 20. Police said Ekakitie had matched the description of a suspect involved in an armed robbery just 10 minutes earlier.
The incident was first described by Ekakitie in a Facebook post the same day of the encounter. Ekakitie said it was "the first time that I've ever truly feared for my life," but added that the police handled the situation "very professionally" once they realized that he was not the suspect.
At the beginning of the nearly seven-minute-long video, an officer can be heard telling Ekakitie to put his hands up while they approached him. The same officer could also be heard saying "It's probably not you, but we've got to double check."
Ekakitie wrote that he was playing "Pokemon Go" in a public park when he was surrounded by police "with four gun barrels staring me in the face." Ekakitie said he feared for his life but understood why police did what they did.
He admitted he was wearing headphones while playing the popular mobile app and didn't hear when officers initially approached him. An officer could also be heard telling another officer that Ekakitie did have his headphones on.
"I was actually playing Pokemon Go, believe it or not," Ekakitie said while being searched. "I believe it, actually," the officer replied.
After the officers check Ekakitie's ID, one thanks him for his cooperation.
"Within two minutes of the initial contact, officers determined that Mr. Ekakitie was not the suspect." The Iowa City police department said in a statement. "Officers then explained why they had detained him. After routine checks to verify Mr. Ekakitie’s identify were completed, officers left the park."
"I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn't," admitted Ekakitie.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The alleged hack into Democratic National Committee e-mails has heightened vigilance against cyber-attacks at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, according to the Secret Service.
“We are trying to be proactive in addressing the cyber threat,” Agent Kyo Dolan of the Secret Service told ABC News.
The Secret Service is leading a multi-layered effort to block potential hackers and other potential threats to the convention. The most visible part of the agency’s job, of course, is the physical protection of the candidates and the convention venue. There are the usual guards, gates and guns protecting the convention and its estimated 30,000 participants. But that’s hardly where the security ends.
Secret Service agents took ABC News behind the scenes in Philadelphia to show us some of the multi-layered, technological fortress that is in place to protect the convention’s critical systems, and computer networks.
“Every security enhancement available has been rolled out for the political conventions — some you can see, and some you can’t,” Dolan said.
To combat the cyber threat, agents and analysts have set up an extensive computer monitoring system to track internet activity around the convention — the command center at the convention in is close touch with the Secret Service monitoring center at headquarters in Washington. Agents closely watch various networks looking for any kind of abnormal or suspicious activity.
Dolan pointed out that national political conventions can make appealing targets for hackers.
“When our protected are on a national stage like this … they are attracting various personnel, various actors and adversaries that possibly want to either cause embarrassment, disrupt the evens, or cause –potentially—harm to our protesters.”
In addition to watching for cyber-attacks aimed at groups or individuals, agents are also on the alert for any internet activity that could threaten the critical systems of the Wells Fargo Center, the site of the convention.
Dolan agreed that it is no longer science fiction to worry about hackers being able to access internal system controls and cutting the power, or shutting off the flow of water.
“That capability is certainly possible,” Dolan said.
Added to the beefed up cyber-security, a tighter credentialing system has been put in place for this year’s conventions. Embedded in each plastic ID card issued is a chip that sends out a radio frequency that is picked up by scanners located at the various entry points.
“It’s automatically scanned,” Tonya Abbott of the Secret Service said of the new ID’s. “It’s not one of those where you have to physically scan.”
The scanners read the radio signal to confirm the person’s identity as they approach the entry, so the security personnel will know whether that person is cleared for entry -- or not, even before they arrive at the door.
The back-to-back Republican and Democratic conventions posed a challenge to the Secret Service, but Dolan and other agents told us they are used to the pace. After they finish in Philadelphia this week, some will be headed off to Martha’s Vineyard, to protect President Obama as he heads off on a family vacation.
Georgia State Lottery(WAYCROSS, Ga.) — A Georgia man who won millions in the lottery could face life in prison after pleading guilty to using a portion of his prize to invest in a crystal meth operation.
Ronnie Music Jr., 45, of Waycross, Georgia, pleaded guilty last week to federal drug and gun charges after U.S. attorneys presented evidence that he "conspired with others to possess and distribute kilograms of methamphetamine," according to a statement released by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"The investigation revealed that in September, 2015, Music’s co-conspirators were caught attempting to sell approximately 11 pounds of crystal meth, with a street value in excess of $500,000," said the DOJ.
Federal agents seized over $1 million worth of meth, a large cache of firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, multiple vehicles, and over $600,000 in cash as part of the case.
"Music decided to test his luck by sinking millions of dollars of lottery winnings into the purchase and sale of crystal meth," said U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver. "As a result of his unsound investment strategy, [he] now faces decades in a federal prison."
Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amid deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a major purchase of heavy ballistic protective equipment by the country's largest police department illustrates the sense of danger among cops that experts say is at its highest in decades.
The New York City Police Department -- which employs more officers than any other police force in the country -- announced on Monday that it would spend $7.5 million to buy 6,000 heavy ballistic vests and 20,000 ballistic helmets for its officers.
The purchase, the department and the mayor said, was in response to recent terror attacks, mass shootings and police ambushes.
For John Cohen, an ABC News contributor with over 30 years in law enforcement and homeland security experience, the recent incidents have cast a specter of danger over the law enforcement community unlike anything he has seen over his career.
The NYPD's purchase of the body armor, he said, is the product of an evolving threat that law enforcement on American streets now face on a regular basis and the changing expectations we have of those who are often the public’s first line of defense.
And he predicts that the NYPD will only be the first department to make a major purchase like this in wake of recent attacks.
“Law enforcement officers are increasingly having to respond to heavily armed individuals using high-capacity weapons seeking to commit mass murder,” he said. “Criminals are going in with a plan, high-capacity weapons, and their job is to kill as many people as possible.”
And whether it's an ideologically motivated terror attack or the work of a deranged person with a grievance, police officers are expected to intervene in ways that they weren’t previously.
In recent years, Cohen explained, tactics have changed -- seeing first responders engage with active shooters directly rather than wait for backup.
“Based on the increasing number of mass casualty attacks, more and more patrol officers are needing tactical gear that they can put on quickly so that they can enter a mass shooting scene while its ongoing and seek to engage with the shooter and stop him from killing more people,” he said.
And increasingly, cops aren’t just protecting members of the public, but are increasingly becoming the targets of violence themselves.
“We are actually seeing an increase in police officers being the target of extremist groups and others,” who are trying to bring, “notoriety to their cause,” Cohen said.
And regardless of whether perpetrators are targeting members of the public or the police themselves, Cohen said, experts have noticed that “criminals are generally using higher caliber weapons with higher capacity magazines.”
This evolving threat requires new equipment that isn’t regularly worn underneath the uniforms by officers patrolling our streets, he said.
The body armor needed to stop rounds coming from rifles, as opposed to handguns, is much heavier, more expensive, is worn outside of the uniform and features greater protection than the standard-issue Kevlar vests most officers currently wear.
The new body armor, however, likely wouldn’t be worn on a day-to-day basis, but would be available to first responders during major incidents.
“The idea is that you have patrol cars where they may have this heavier gear in the back that they can throw that on to deal with an issue,” Cohen said.
The NYPD said that it will place two of these heavier vests -- which feature “level-three” protection -- in some 3,000 vehicles.
“Once again, we’re seeing NYPD leading the way, not only in the way they’re dealing with these problems, but making sure their officers have the type of equipment needed to deal with them as well,” Cohen said. “I think it's safe to say that most state and local agencies will go the way of the NYPD in providing this type of equipment to their employees.”
iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The state of California declared a state of emergency Tuesday night, as firefighters feverishly tried to control a fast-moving wildfire that has scorched 37,473 acres near Los Angeles since Friday, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
"Acting Governor Tom Torlakson today issued emergency proclamations for Los Angeles and Monterey counties due to the effects of the Sand and Soberanes fires, which have burned tens of thousands of acres of land, threatened thousands of homes and other structures and caused the evacuation of residents," read a statement from the office of California governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
More than 3,000 firefighters have been deployed to halt the blaze in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to the department. About 25 percent of the fire has been contained.
About 10,000 homes were evacuated because of the massive blaze, dubbed the Sand fire. Some evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes last night, fire officials announced, while residents of areas still deemed too dangerous were not.
As of yesterday, one death has been reported, and 18 structures have been destroyed, officials said.
The U.S. Forest Service has asked residents not to fly drones over the fire.
"Recent drone activity has occurred over the fire in the Bear Divide area. When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. On the Sand fire, an FAA temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect, and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges," according to a statement on the agency's site.
Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As heat advisories popped up again across the Mid-Atlantic and a heat wave continued in the East, people were reminded again of the deadly dangers of kids and cars as two additional heat-related child deaths were reported.
KidsAndCars said late Monday that it had learned of two additional children -- one in Florida and another in Missouri -- who had died after being found in hot cars this weekend.
That raised the total number of children who have died of heatstroke in a vehicle so far this year from 23. KidsAndCars said that a total of 25 children had died in heat-related car deaths in 2015.
"We simply cannot accept these deaths as tragedies and move on," the organization said in a news release.
In Missouri, the McDonald County Sheriff's Office said that a 2-year-old boy, identified by his family as Raiden Wells, had been found unconscious around 3 p.m. Saturday inside a vehicle parked in the yard of a home in Rocky Comfort.
The boy and other children had been playing in the yard as the father checked on them repeatedly, authorities said. When the father did not see the boy with the others, he went looking and found him in the back floorboard of the four-door vehicle, authorities said.
"The car's doors were locked and the father immediately broke a side window to gain access to the child," the sheriff's office said in a statement, which also noted that the father called 911 and then started CPR.
The little boy was taken to a hospital in Joplin, Missouri, where he was pronounced dead.
Rocky Comfort was under an excessive heat warning that weekend, with temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s as well as high humidity, according to the National Weather Service.
Authorities said its Children's Division would be investigating.
In Dallas, police were still investigating the death of a 2-year-old boy who had been left in a hot car as his family attended church Sunday. The little boy's death made him the fifth child to die in a hot car in Texas this year.
National Heatstroke Awareness Day is Sunday, according to the National Child Passenger Safety Board. The board offered several safety tips, including never leaving a child in a car; calling 911 if you see a child unattended in a car; and always locking your car and teaching your children not to play in vehicles.
Volusia County Sheriffs Office(DELTONA, Fla.) -- Body camera footage has captured a sheriff's deputy's perspective of what happened when he responded to a domestic quarrel-turned-shooting at a residence in Deltona, Florida.
In part of the dramatic footage, obtained by ABC News Tuesday, a Volusia County sheriff's deputy is seen dragging a woman, who had allegedly been shot by her husband, to safety. Later on in the same video, the deputy can also be seen helping escort the woman's three children -- between the ages of 23 months and 7 years old -- out of the house to safety, as well.
The incident happened this past Sunday around 12:30 p.m., when 26-year-old Emmanuel Rosado got into a squabble with his wife, who told a 911 dispatcher she had been trying to separate from him, according to a news release from the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Rosado had "started acting crazy, locked her in the house and refused to let her leave," the sheriff's office said, adding that there were three children between the ages of 23 months and 7 years old in the home at the time.
Roasado's wife "said that she had asked her husband to leave, but he refused and kept breaking into her bedroom where she had gone to seek refuge," the sheriff's office said. "Several minutes into the  call, a scream was heard and then the line went dead."
Around the same time, responding deputies reported hearing a man's voice from inside the house, proclaiming, "You're going to die tonight!"
The deputies then reported witnessing multiple shots fired through a door and window of the home and in the direction of deputies. Two deputies returned fire, but the suspect wasn't hit.
Rosado's wife, who appeared to have been shot by him, managed to get out of the house, according to the sheriff's office. A deputy spotted her "crawling on the driveway of the residence" and then "ran to her aid, pulled her off of the driveway and took her to the safety of a neighboring house."
A few minutes later, the three children in the house at the time later managed to get out and were escorted to safety as well.
Rosado then came out from behind the house, as ordered by deputies, and was immediately taken into custody. His wife was airlifted by a helicopter to Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford for medical treatment.
"Based on statements from the victim as well as one of the children who witnessed the shooting," investigators believe Rosado "shot his wife with a 9mm handgun," the sheriff's office said. "Rosado has been charged with three counts of attempted 1st-degree murder for the shooting of his wife and for two deputies who came under fire during the incident."
The sheriff's office added that Rosado has been booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he’s being held without bond.
A spokesperson for the Volusia County Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office told ABC News Tuesday that Rosado has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him.
Rosado's lawyer, Joshua Mott, did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.