Lately, there has been a rash of retail establishments that have refused to serve on duty police officer customers. The news agencies and social media reporting of these incidents often has caused a public relations issue with the retail establishment corporate office who are placed in a position to protect their brand, by terminating what is reported as a rogue employee acting on their own, and putting out a press release that everyone is welcome and that their company does not tolerate discrimination in any form. Are these recent incidents just a few rogue employees, or is something bigger in play, such as societies change of attitude and respect towards authority and symbols of our government?
War on Cops
Many local, state, and federal law enforcement officers believe that society attitudes towards police has shifted with deadly consequences. The words that they have used to describe this shift is a “War on Cops”. Do the statistical numbers of duty related officer deaths justify this assumption and claim that society has started a “War on Cops”?
Duty related police officer deaths as tracked by the Officer Down Memorial Page
Here are the numbers for officer duty related deaths for the last 10 years:
|Total Number of Duty Deaths||Deaths Caused by Gunfire|
These numbers represent our law enforcement officers who have died protecting our communities for each year for the last decade. The reported deaths come from many different categories such as assaults, vehicle accidents, firearms related, etc.; however, the left column are the total number of officers who have died in the line of duty within that given year. The right column shows duty deaths caused by gunfire for the last decade.
The Washington Post indicated that Ambush killings of police officers has hit a 10-year high. The statistical data used in the Post report comes from the FBI. The FBI tracks feloniously officer attacks and deaths, and the Officer Down Memorial Page tracks all categories of duty deaths whether feloniously, accidental, or health related.
The perception as to why officers feel there is a “War on Cops” is that the number of duty deaths caused by gunfire and police ambushes has increased in 2016. Given the statistical number of gunfire deaths and reported increase in police ambushes there is justification for concern by the law enforcement community. There should not be just concern from law enforcement. American society should be outraged that our officers are being targeted for retaliation because they are responsible for law and order, and the most visible sign of our government within the community.
Our communities are safer when we support our officers. No matter how one feels about current police community relationships, violence that targets our officers is unacceptable. We cannot build trust and respect when officers are being targeted simply because they wear a law enforcement uniform.