Law enforcement leaders are pinning blame on the "defund the police" movement and liberal soft-on-crime prosecutors for the dramatic rise of assaults and violence toward police officers in 2020, which increased by 4,000 attacks from 2019.
New FBI statistics show that 60,105 law enforcement officers were assaulted on the job in 2020, with 30.9% of them – 18,568 – suffering injuries as a result. The total number of officers assaulted jumped by 4,071 from 2019, when 56,034 line-of-duty assaults were reported, the FBI said.
The president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) Jason Johnson blamed the spike in assaults due to the rise of activist movements, including defund the police, which encouraged the decriminalization of crimes, emboldening criminals and making it harder for police to do their jobs.
"This spike in assaults on law enforcement officers comes at a time in which law enforcement is seemingly under attack on all fronts," Johnson told Fox News.
"Activists have called for (some successfully) de-funding of police, while prosecutors in cities across America have made clear their intention to decriminalize everything from theft to prostitution. It’s hard to imagine the two trends are not closely related," continued Johnson, the former deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department.
National Sheriffs' Association President, Fayette County, Ohio, Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, told Fox News: "These numbers are horrific and sad, but unfortunately not surprising after seeing this troubling year for law enforcement in 2020."
Major Cities Chiefs Association Executive Director Laura Cooper told Fox News that rising violence is hurting police recruitment opportunities and that every criminal who purposefully attacked a police office should be held accountable under the law.
"Police officers across the country are facing an increase in violent crime and violent acts committed against them. Facing these dangerous situations is another reason why it has been difficult for police agencies to find recruits who want to put on a uniform and put their lives on the line. For those who purposefully attack, assault, or ambush law enforcement, they need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," said Cooper.
Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, spokesperson for the National Police Association said "After the death of George Floyd, police officers were maligned and vilified as violent offenders themselves, when in reality American law enforcement sustained incredible violence themselves, with over 44,000 officers injured during these assaults."
"The FBI ‘officer assaulted’ statistics for 2020 reinforce the need for more and better officer safety training, something that often gets lost in the calls to ‘defund’ the police. These numbers also emphasize the need for the media, politicians and police leaders to fight the false narrative that police are the problem. With a 30% rise in homicides nationwide, police officers are not a ‘danger’ to their communities, violent criminals are," Smith continued in a statement to Fox News.
According to the FBI, 59 law enforcement officers have been mortally wounded this year as of Oct. 12, with 23 falling victim to unprovoked attacks.
Biden on Saturday paid tribute to America's fallen police officers at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in front of the U.S. Capitol. 491 law enforcement officers lost their lives in the line of duty during 2019 and 2020
Fox News' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.