Escalating Brutality: Cop Slayings on the Rise

Because they were retired, the guards are not included in the official officer death count. But Knight says the shootings signify a more dangerous environment. He notes that recent anecdotal evidence suggests that suspects, especially in robberies, are more likely to use force against officers than in the past. "It is disturbing," he says.

After the March slayings of two officers, the Monck's Corner Police Department in South Carolina is trying to expand its communication system. The changes would give police and other first responders access to broader background information about potential suspects, says Capt. Mark Murray.

In Florida, after the fatal shooting of a Miami-Dade County officer Sept. 13, Miami Police Chief Timoney announced his officers could carry department-issued assault rifles if they completed training.

"We're seeing a huge increase in the number of AK-47s on the street," Timoney says.

"It reminds me of the early '90s back in New York," he says of the drug-fueled violence that plagued the city when he was its second-highest ranking police official. "Here we are again."

'All a bad dream'

Less than a month after his brother was killed, Sgt. Pete Marquez was back on the street. Not long into his first shift, he was the first to respond to an armed robbery call.

Was there any hesitation?

"Not one bit," says the sergeant, whose surviving brother, Phillip, also is an Odessa officer. "I wanted to get back into the game."

Eager to return to something familiar, Marquez concedes everything felt different, draining. Every day, he thinks about his brother — and how he couldn't save him.

He seizes on an awful irony: Abel Marquez was supposed to be off that day but signed on to earn overtime pay.

Only recently have Pete Marquez's nightmares lessened in intensity. "I get up in the morning and I think it was all a bad dream, and then it hits you," he says. "That's been hard. It's still so hard to believe."

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