Assaults on law enforcement officers continue to climb, especially in Missouri’s metro areas.

Missouri’s Fraternal Order of Police is seeing an increase in the number of criminals who are armed, and with that, the number of assaults on officers is going up.

President of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police Kevin Ahlbrand is a detective with St. Louis Metro P.D. He says conceal and carry has led to more car break-ins, especially where guns aren’t allowed in — such as at churches and sporting events.

“We see more and more instances of officers being shot at — not necessarily hit all the time — but they’re being shot in. Typically in years past, someone breaking into a car or a residential break-in weren’t armed, but now we’re seeing kids even just breaking into cars are routinely armed,” he says. He adds that car break ins are “skyrocketing.”

And Ahlbrand says there might be a good reason armed criminals are getting more brazen.

“There are parts of the city of St. Louis that are very very violent,” he says. “Another factor, which we think contributes to officer assaults, the days of a two-officer car are almost non-existent anymore.” He says when he joined the force some 20 years ago, nearly every police car on the street had two officers inside. Now, it’s policy to always call for back-up, but sometimes when it takes a while for back-up to arrive, officers are left with little choice but to pursue the criminal alone.

That, he says, can be blamed on a lack of resources: federal funding has led to a reduction of officers on police forces across the state, and he says lack of good pensions, pay raises and benefits has led to fewer young men and women joining in the first place.

He says assaults on law enforcement officers are up 17 percent throughout the U.S. this year, and Missouri is no different. Ahlbrand says St. Louis and Kansas City are driving those numbers.

Ahlbrand says he’s not surprised St. Louis tops the list of the United States’ most dangerous cities each year. The report is issued by the FBI each year and ranks crimes with per capita numbers to compile the list.