Among the recent high-profile killings of police officers around the county, police supporters and “conservative” pundits the nation over are railing against a perceived “war on cops.”
According to data collected by the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths, there is no recent upward trend in the killing of police officers.
In fact, the data shows the opposite. The number of police officers killed by citizens is actually decreasing.
In 2011, the number of police deaths in line of duty caused by gunfire or stabbing totaled 70. That number dropped to 53 in 2012 and 32 in 2013, before rising to 50 in 2014. Thus far in 2015, 24 officers have been killed by gunfire or stabbing, on pace for a lower number than in 2014.
The Center for Investigative Reporting points out:
Firearms-related fatalities among law enforcement officers have decreased each decade since the 1970s, according to the memorial fund’s data. In the 1970s, an average of 127 officers were killed with guns annually. That dropped to an average of 87 officers a year in the 1980s. Last year, firearms deaths rose but [the number remains] below this decade’s average of 53 officers a year.
By contrast, according to data compiled by The Guardian, over 161 unarmed civilians have been killed so far this year by police, with at least 793 people killed in total – although, obviously some of those killings were justified.
What’s more glaring however is what appears to be the actual greatest threat to the life of police officers: suicide. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, 126 police officers committed suicide.
According to stats, suicides are 1.5 times more likely to be committed by law enforcement officers than by the general pubic, and cops are 300% more likely to kill themselves than to be shot and killed by someone else.
“Quite truthfully, the actual rate is probably higher as law enforcement suicides are more likely to be underreported or misclassified as accidental deaths,” psychiatric nurse Pamela Kulbarsh said. “This misclassification usually occurs to protect the family, other survivors, or the agency from the stigma of suicide.
Predictably, the highest number of police killed in the line of duty – 300 in one year – occurred in 1930 during the height of alcohol prohibition and also skyrocketed up to 200 during the first year of Nixon’s War on Drugs.
So if you are concerned about the lives of police officers, perhaps you should be working to get drugs legalized.
The perpetuation of the “war on cops” is simply a propaganda lie that seeks to placate the reality that there is a police and surveillance state war on you.
As of 2014, 8,000 local law enforcement agencies participate in the Pentagon’s controversial 1033 program.
The program has transferred over $5.1 billion in military hardware including armored personnel carriers built specifically to resist roadside bombs, amphibious tanks, and drones from the Department of Defense to local American law enforcement agencies since 1997.
According to the US Government’s Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services “Law Enforcement Support Office,” material worth $449 million was transferred in 2013 alone.
A study released last year, by the American Civil Liberties Union, confirmed that with the help of equipment and strategies imported directly from the United States military, police have become dangerously and unnecessarily federally militarized.
The report, entitled War Comes Home, looked at 818 Swat incidents from July 2010 to October 2013, that were carried out by more than 20 law enforcement agencies in 11 states. Seven cases were found where civilians died in connection with the deployment of the Swat teams, two of which appeared to be suicides. An additional 46 civilians were injured as a result of officer force.
The study found that not only are people dying and being injured by police teams deploying war-time tactics; there are also many accompanying lesser transgressions. For example, the growing use of battering rams to smash down doors, which routinely causes property damage to homes.
Swat teams, a 1960s invention, were initially utilized by officers to help react to perilous situations like riots and hostage takings. In recent years however, they have developed into something entirely different.
The study found that the majority, 62 percent, of Swat team deployments were for drug searches. Likewise, 79 percent involved raids on private residences. In fact, only about 7% were used for incidences the technique was originally developed for.
“Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using paramilitary squads to search people’s homes for drugs,” the study reads, adding that, “Neighborhoods are not war zones and our police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies.”