The new year is already being considered one of the most violent ever for police across the U.S., with 14 law enforcement officers having already been killed in the line of duty.
On Monday, St. Petersburg, Fla. police officers Thomas Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz died in a shootout as they served a search warrant. The men lost their lives despite an attempted rescue by federal agents during a gunfight in which more than 100 shots were fired.
"Tom and Jeff died doing what they loved," St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said. "They were cops."
"I'm going to miss them. It's a hard day for the police department. It's a very hard day for this community," St. Petersburg police chief Chuck Harmon told reporters.
The St. Petersburg shooting came just four days after another fatal shooting in Miami. Thousands of people came out to honor police detectives Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth. The two detectives were gunned down while trying to serve a warrant on a murder suspect.
"It's very, very sad. They're heroes of our lives and we appreciate everything they do," Miami resident Kathleen Windsor said.
In a shoot-out in Detroit over the weekend, a gunman opened fire inside a city police precinct, wounding a police commander and three officers.
And in Indianapolis, police officer David Moore was shot four times during a traffic stop. As of Wednesday, he remains in critical condition.
This year's police deaths are the latest in what appears to be a three-year trend of deadly violence directed at police.
"This is the third year in a row that we're seeing a significant increase in the number of officers who have been shot and killed," said Craid Floyd, chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
In 2010, more than 162 law enforcement officers died. Sixty-one of them were shot and killed in the line of duty.
However, the problem of gun violence extends beyond police officers.
"Americans are murdered with guns every single day. Most of them are purchased or possessed illegally," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Experts aren't sure how to explain the rash of killings this year or over the last several years.
Gun control advocates say easy firearm access is part of the problem, and they have called on Congress to tighten background checks for those trying to purchase any type of firearm.