WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 10, 2011, 09:56 PM

Recent violent crimes mark a disturbing trend

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Are criminals becoming more desperate and dangerous? In our area, 3 police officers have lost their lives in the past 2 months.

In 2 other incidents in the Twin Cities, police were shot at and had to shoot a suspect…an unsettling trend. So we sought answers as to why were seeing it more often.

They're crimes we typically don't see around here, police officers killed in the line of duty. Law enforcement experts say a number of factors may be playing in to the minds of criminals today. And, the economy is a bigger factor than we may think.

Michelle Prouty is honored to put on the uniform each day. But unnerving to her, is recent incidents of officers being killed or shot at so close to home.

Michelle Prouty – Fargo Police Officer: "The city is relatively safe place to be. but you always have in the back of your mind, you know, what if, what if, what if."

Even in her 7 years as an officer, she's seen criminals get tougher.

Michelle Prouty: "I would say maybe trying to push the envelope more, just test the boundaries to see how far they'll go."

According to the most recent FBI data the number of officers killed and assaulted in the county has steadily increased. 41 killed in '08. 48 killed in '09. 500 more officers were assaulted in '09 than in '08. 4 were killed in the past 2 years in Minnesota and the Dakota's

Kevin Thompson – NDSU Criminal Justice Professor: "It's very unusual for this part of the country. If this was southern California or Miami. I would say its pretty much par for the course."

Kevin Thompson, a 21 year criminal justice professor at NDSU, says our economy teetering on instability plays in to the minds of people committing crimes and having little respect for authority.

Kevin Thompson: "Anytime at the federal level people feel like their governments have let them down, they just kind of have this attitude about being very defensive."

That floundering faith that some may have in our law makers and enforcers won't stop the officers like Michelle Prouty from doing their jobs..

Michelle Prouty: "There's no such thing as routine in this job."