By itself, this is a very disturbing statistic: gun homicides committed involving police officers are up an alarming 44% over the same period last year.
But even more troubling is that there have been 11 “ambush” incidents this year where police have lost their lives. That number already exceeds the eight ambushes that targeted police last year.
The deaths of four Dallas police officers and one Dallas transit officer from sniper fire during a protest in the city Thursday raised the national total of firearm deaths among police to 26. This compares with 18 at this point in time in 2015, said Nick Breul, director of research for the fund in Washington, D.C.
Breul said it was also the latest of 11 ambushes of police officers so far this year across the country, already outpacing the eight ambushes of law enforcement that occurred last year.
“That’s certainly a concern for us. It’s troubling and it’s something that we watch,” Breul, a former Washington, D.C., police officer, said about the shootings. “It’s really an assassination. You’re taking advantage of an officer and you’re ensuring that you’re able to kill them through them either being vulnerable or through a complete surprise attack.”
Breul said the last major ambush targeting police occurred at a coffee shop in Lakewood, Wash. on Nov. 29, 2009, when a gunman walked in and opened fire on four city police officers working on their laptop computers preparing for their work shifts. All four were killed. The gunman died two days later in a shootout with police
Forty-one officers were killed with guns last year. The largest, annual number of police officers shot and killed nationally in the past ten years was 70, who were killed in 2007, according to the memorial fund website.
There were copycat attacks on police Friday in Tennessee, Georgia, and Missouri, but thankfully, all the officers survived. Given the escalation of rhetoric against the police recently, one has to think that the death toll among police officers will only rise.
Is this just a temporary uptick in violence against police or is this a new normal officers will have to learn to live with? You hope for the former but fear the latter. A bad sign for creating conditions that police are fair game was that Black Lives Matter demonstrators were back in the streets less than 24 hours after the shootings in Dallas, ginning up outrage about the police being racist and deliberately killing blacks while piously proclaiming their peaceful intentions.
Movements like this thrive on hate. And the police are the most visible target they have.