The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the group that runs the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, released officer fatality statistics for 2016 today. The number of officers who died on duty increased by 18% over 2015. But that wasn’t the big attention-getter in the report.
In 2016, the number of police officers who were shot to death increased from 41 last year to 60. If a 50% increase in the number of police killings wasn’t bad enoough, the number of those firearms deaths due to ambush-style killings increased from 8 in 2015 to 20 this year. In fact, the entire increase in police deaths is explainable by the increase in ambush-style attacks.
Why do we think that is?
There wasn’t a major terrorist attack on any police department. There was no civil war or even civil unrest (at least until November 8). The odds of a statistical anomaly bordering on a 300% swing is possible, but so is the Second Coming. Even if you subtract the one mass shooting in Dallas, you are still left with a 200% increase.
One of Obama’s legacies will have been to damage, perhaps irreparably, the traditional bonds between communities and police forces that serve them.
Words have meaning and actions speak louder than words.
Obama began his term in office by castigating a police officer who did what a police officer should do when investigating a 911 call of a burglary in progress. He said the officer “acted stupidly.” But that wasn’t the end of it. By signals (for instance, sending White House staff to the funeral of thug Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, when preliminary evidence had already established that he had tried to take a police officer’s firearm) and by overt action (like unleashing the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division on seemingly every cop-and-black-suspect shooting in the nation and coddling the #BLM agitators) he has sent a clear message that the police are not to be trusted. He sent a message that the police are a brutal occupying army and the federal government will protect you. Indeed, Obama’s treatment of the police has been nothing more or less than a bullet-points, to use an appropriate metaphor, from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals:
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
It is no surprise then that people receiving this message from the President of the United States take it as validation of their own grievances.
We cannot see the last of this reckless and amoral man too soon.