There is new data to add to the debate about the war on police.
The number of cops shot while on duty is on pace to be the highest in at least a decade, according to a report published Wednesday by BehindTheBadgeOC.com.
The numbers killed by gunfire is also on the rise – and would likely be even higher if not for protective gear, training, instincts and luck.
The data showing that 164 officers have been shot – 32 fatally – is evidence of the growing hatred for police officers and the growing danger they face while doing their jobs.
There is no doubt more police officers are being killed for no other reason than wearing a uniform. In Dallas and in Baton Rouge, we watched in horror after police officers were killed by individuals inspired by hateful rhetoric targeting those sworn to protect them.
In 1999, Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Riches was gunned down outside a Lake Forest 7-11 by a suspect who said he intended to use his AK-47 assault style weapon against a cop.
Analysis of the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police officers killed so far this year, reports that the number of officers shot to death is up 78 percent compared to last year.
The BehindtheBadgeOC.com report adds new information to the conversation. The number of police officers being shot and injured is on track to be nearly double the number of those injured in incidents involving firearms in 2014, the most recent year of data available from the FBI.
For many of these officers, their lives and their families’ lives have been forever changed.
For example, this week Ballwin, MO. Officer Michael Flamion was shot during a traffic stop. The suspect shot him in the back of the neck as he walked back to his patrol car. He is now paralyzed from the neck down.
The number of police officers being shot and injured is a powerful indicator of something seriously wrong with the social fabric of this country. Attacks on police officers undermine the foundation upon which a nation of laws is built upon.
And it’s not just police officers dying. You just have to look at the historical increases in homicide rates across the country.
There is no doubt there is something seriously going wrong with us as a people. From Chicago to Baltimore to Long Beach the number of people being killed is rising at alarming rates.
And this doesn’t even take into account the number of people who are being shot and injured.
In a, May 2016, FBI Director James B. Comey told the Washington Post , “I was very worried about it last fall, and I am in many ways more worried, because the numbers are not only going up, they’re continuing to go up in most of those cities faster than they were going up last year,”…Something is happening.”
While the rates are nowhere near what they were in 1990s during the height of the crack epidemic, the pace with which the homicide rate is rising is alarming.
Criminologists and politicians are debating the reasons for the uptick in violence. In the meantime, cops as well as citizens are dying in the streets.
It will be left to law enforcement to bear the brunt of making our communities safer. Cops are at the fronts lines of dealing with an increasingly violent society.
And, for far too many, they are paying the ultimate price.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.