Columns

Lynch on Shootings of Cops: Police Work an 'Inherently Dangerous Undertaking'

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters today that officials are studying the “very serious question” of increased attacks on police officers.

“We look at every incident and every instance individually and we see a number of different causes,” Lynch said at a Justice Department press conference. “For example, in the tragic situation yesterday, this brave officer was responding to a disturbance as so many officers do on a daily basis.”

Lynch began the press conference paying tribute to Kansas City Police Department Capt.  Robert Melton, a 17-year veteran shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday while responding to a call about a drive-by shooting.

“This devastating loss is yet another reminder that our courageous officers put their lives on the line every day in order to serve the public, in order to serve us, not only in the times of heightened tensions in which we find ourselves or during ambush scenarios, as tragic as those are, but all day and every day,” she said.

“And the Department of Justice is committed to doing all that we can to support our officers at every level and to keep them safe from harm. And we will continue to advance that work and to keep that promise even as we mourn the loss of yet another guardian, another colleague, another friend.”

Answering the question later about increased attacks, Lynch acknowledged “situations where officers have been directly targeted and ambushed” among the “danger being aimed at law enforcement from a number of sources.”

“It’s the responsibility, I think, of everyone to take note of this and be as supportive as we can of law enforcement in these difficult times,” she said. “We’re continuing to do that with specific training focused on active shooter situations, for example, de-escalation so that when officers find themselves in situations, we’ve been able to give them what we can to deal with these situations.”

“What do you think has created a culture where police officers seem to be — it’s almost like an open season on these individuals?” a reporters asked Lynch.

“You know, I think that certainly law enforcement is feeling under siege because of these incidents, and they are tragic. Many of the efforts of the department is engaging in — actually date back several years to when we saw police officers come under attack, as well as federal agents come under attack in the beginning of the administration,” the attorney general replied.

“And the department set up a number of groups, officer safety and wellness group in 2011, to start working on these issues and focusing on providing training and support to both hire additional officers to support officers in the field,” she added.

“And I think that it’s worth noting that we are certainly highlighting these issues today, but this is an issue that law enforcement has faced because it is a dangerous profession. And so, they have continually borne this weight. And certainly we want to highlight the issues today, use them to start a conversation, but let’s not forget that our brave men and women in law enforcement have always been engaged in an inherently dangerous undertaking.”

Lynch said she believes Americans are at a place where they are “truly recognizing that the tragedies that we are seeing are affecting all of us, that individuals who talk about not feeling safe are also echoing what our police officers say when they talk about how they are not safe in many situations.”

“And that is not a situation for growth and doesn’t bring out the best of us,” she noted. “And I think we’re also in a situation where people really want things to improve. They want everyone to get home safely. They want law enforcement officers to feel supported, and they want to be able to call on law enforcement officers when they are in trouble.”