In January, a suspect who was out to kill a police officer killed Danville, Ohio Police Officer Thomas Cottrell as he sat in his patrol car.
The bad guy wanted to kill any police officer. It didn’t matter who he or she was.
Last month, a suspect walked up to the front of the Prince George’s County Maryland police station and opened fire. The suspects, two brothers, filmed the shooting. In the ensuing response, an undercover officer was killed by friendly fire. The main suspect wanted to kill cops.
Just this past week, Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer was shot and killed by a suspect he stopped to talk to in a bus station. According to the suspect’s sister and his former girlfriend, he had a long criminal history and “hated” cops.
In case you don’t follow social media, watch the news or live in a cave, there are some really scary people out there.
Colorado Congressman Ken Buck has introduced legislation that would add another category to hate crimes. If he has his way, police officers targeted for violence out of hate would rise to the level of a hate crime. If it were a federal offense the FBI and federal prosecutors would have an opportunity to prosecute those crimes.
Hate crimes are defined by most state penal codes as criminal offenses against a person or their property motivated by the person’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.
There is no doubt police officers are being targeted for murder simply because they are wearing a uniform and happen to run into someone who hates the police.
Our culture has made it easy and acceptable to espouse hatred to an entire group of people because of their profession.
When a group of people can espouse murder, death and hatred unimpeded it makes you wonder where it will lead.
Anti-policing rhetoric is to be expected. It’s existed since the first person put on a badge and cuffed the first bad guy.
The recent past has demonstrated there will always be deranged individuals operating on the fringe who will respond to the rhetoric.
The difference now is the rhetoric is especially hateful. Calling for the killing of police officers and celebrating their death should be unacceptable by any modern society.
Take, for example, the lyrics from this song by a band called Cancerslug:
The only good cop is a dead cop!
So if you know a cop then help him die!
If your mom’s a cop or if your dad’s a cop
Then kill yourself after you put a bullet in between their mother f****** eyes!!!!!
It’s just freedom of expression and a sign of the times, some will say. But the same messaging is being repeated over and over. It’s being repeated at demonstrations on social media and in popular culture.
“The only good cop is a dead cop” mantra has become acceptable as a form of protest.
The majority of people have not heard what protesters are saying or read the signs they are carrying. Mainstream media has found it too offensive and disturbing to broadcast the hate speech and profanity officers are subjected to.
As a society, we have been negligent in condemning the hateful rhetoric. Political and community leaders have been negligent in reinforcing acceptable standards of behavior.
It’s no wonder Rep. Buck felt it necessary to call for a law making targeted violence against a police officer a hate crime. It sends a strong message that there limits to acceptable behavior.
Calling for someone’s death because of his or her job should never be part of who we are as a people.
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org