Are American law enforcement officers are under threat? That theory was fueled in speeches by Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Convention, reported the Marshall Project.
A report released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund — a “nonprofit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement and making it safer for those who serve” — will surely be marshalled to support those pronouncements. The group says 32 law enforcement officers were shot and killed between Jan. 1 and July 20, 2016, compared with 18 during the same span of 2015.
The report adds that there have been 14 “ambush killings” of unsuspecting officers so far this year, versus three in the same period last year. In March, after Jacai Colson, a police officer in Prince George’s County, Md., was shot and killed at a police station, Craig T. Floyd, the CEO of the memorial fund, said in a statement that the high numbers of police deaths “strongly point to a growing disrespect for the rule of law in our nation.”
Other researchers have not reacted with the same alarm. “That’s always a mistake to look at a small portion of time,” says Philip Stinson, a Bowling Green State University criminologist and former cop who collects and analyzes data on police officers. “The difference is that people are paying attention,” he said. “The stories used to be small and local, now they’re national and international.”
It will not be clear for several years whether the higher numbers for the first half of 2016 represent a trend. The number of law enforcement officers killed while on duty has fluctuated significantly by year, and percentages can look outsized because the total numbers are so small when set against the total number of sworn officers in the U.S. — 900,000, according to the memorial fund.
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