More than 150 American police officers have been shot this year, at least 24 of them killed in the line of duty, statistics compiled by Fox News Digital show.
"Criminals feel free to engage in crime," said Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, spokesperson for the National Police Association and a retired officer with nearly three decades of experience. "You see videos all over TikTok and Instagram, where criminals are doing things, and they appear to have no fear of the police, of a security guard, of a store manager, none of that."
In all, at least 156 officers have been shot around the country in 2022 as of Tuesday, according to Fraternal Order of Police data combined with additional information from the Gun Violence Archive.
The numbers include two officers shot and killed in El Monte, California, Tuesday – Cpl. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana. The suspect was a known gang member, Justin William Flores, who was on probation despite being convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon.
"The sentence he received in the firearm case was consistent with case resolutions for this type of offense given his criminal history and the nature of the offense," embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon's office told Fox News Wednesday. "At the time the court sentenced him, Mr. Flores did not have a documented history of violence."
The Fraternal Order of Police, the world's largest organization of law enforcement officers, said that shootings of police were up 10% this year over last between Jan. 1 and June 1. Compared to 2020, the number has risen by 20%.
"We're in the third year of the war on cops, the renewed war on cops in a post-George Floyd world," Smith said. "And then we have these ‘woke’ prosecutors who are not keeping people in jail."
The two suspects blamed for the last three police slayings all should have been behind bars, she said.
"Had they been in prison, these three cops would still be alive," she said.
There's also a problem of ambush-style attacks, according to the FOP.
Six officers have been killed out of 42 shot in 27 such attacks as of the beginning of June, according to the organization.
Flores, the El Monte suspect, died in a shootout after he ambushed the officers at a motel in Los Angeles County, according to police. Sources within the prosecutor's office have told Fox News that If he had been prosecuted under standard procedures, rather than under blanket directives from Gascon, he would likely have been sentenced to around three years in prison.
The year kicked off with a spate of violence. Los Angeles Police Officer Fernando Arroyos was gunned down during a robbery on Jan. 10 – while he was out shopping for a new house with his girlfriend.
Days later, a man burst out of his mother's bedroom in New York City with a .45-caliber handgun, shooting NYPD Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora. Both were posthumously promoted to detective.
Two more officers were killed before the end of the month: Cpl. Charles Galloway with the Harris County Constable's Office in Texas, and Officer Donald Sahota of the Vancouver Police Department in Washington state.
The states with the most line-of-duty shootings as of June 1, 2022, were Texas and Arizona, each with 14. New York and Georgia both saw nine. Missouri saw eight and Washington saw seven.
Police morale is low, and anti-police sentiment in "woke" cities and counties is high, leading to a rise in officer shootings as well as crimes in general, said Smith, the National Police Association spokesperson. Officers are also leaving their jobs at an increased rate, and departments are having trouble recruiting.
"We’ve got to fight the false narrative that American law enforcement is a danger to our communities," she told Fox News Digital Thursday.
The public is also showing signs of moving away from progressive attempts at criminal justice reforms including eliminating cash bail and lessening penalties for repeat offenders, she said, pointing to the recent recall of Democratic District Attorney Chesa Boudin, of San Francisco.
"San Francisco recalled Chesa Boudin, and now there's a big movement afoot in Los Angeles to recall George Gascon," she said. "I think this may be a trend now – not every state has this mechanism…so I think we may see a trend politically that this is what's going to happen."
Another positive sign for police, she said, is Atlanta's recent decision to give out raises and retention bonuses. But it could take time before the country puts rising police violence to rest.
"In the meantime, cops are dying," she said. "We're getting ambushed, we're getting injured, and it's not just fatal shootings… Most police officers who are attacked don't die, but that doesn't mean they don't have life-altering, career-ending injuries."
Fox News' Louis Casiano and Bill Melugin contributed to this report.