Number of police officers shot this year reaches 128, union says 'defund' movement a factor
National Fraternal Order of Police also reports sharp increase in 'ambush-style' attacks
The number of police officers shot in 2021 has reached 128, an uptick from the previous year, and the number of "ambush-style" attacks on law enforcement is particularly on the rise, according to the National Fraternal Order of Police.
The major law enforcement union says the increase of violence against officers can be traced to the "defund the police" movement and overall hot rhetoric against police that have created a culture of disrespect.
"I think that the present climate that we see throughout the country right now and the dehumanization of law enforcement is certainly, I think, having some impact on the aggression towards law enforcement," Patrick Yoes, National FOP president, told Fox News.
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"There's definitely a lack of respect," he added.
Among the recent incidents were three officers in Flower Mound, Texas, getting shot at while on a welfare check for a suicidal man on May 26. Two days later in Martinsburg, West Virginia, a state trooper was shot after a standoff with a suspect who had barricaded himself inside his home. And on May 28, a robbery suspect shot at two St. Louis police officers during an attempted traffic stop.
As of midnight on May 31, 128 police officers were shot in America this year, including 26 who were killed by gunfire, the union reports. That's an increase from the previous two years.
In 2020, 118 officers were shot at this point in the year, with 23 deaths. Two years ago, 104 officers were shot by May 31, 2019, with 23 of them losing their lives to the gunfire, according to the FOP.
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One hopeful statistic is that more officers are surviving the gunshot wounds thanks to improvements in medical trauma science and anti-ballistic technology, the union says. The bad news is there's a sharp rise in ambush-style attacks that the police union says is a reflection of the "unstable relationship" between police and certain communities.
There's been a 50% increase from 2020 in the number of ambush attacks on police, 27 already in 2021, which is up from 18 at this point last year, according to the Fraternal Order of Police that represents more than 356,000 members.
"All we have to do is simply look at the increase in ambush attacks on law enforcement officers," Yoes said. "That shows that there's definitely a lot more aggression towards law enforcement than there was in previous years."
The fallen officers are normally remembered during a memorial service on May 15 annually in Washington, D.C., but the ceremony has been canceled for the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The national service is expected now on Oct. 16.
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"This is a very dangerous job and law enforcement officers – despite the attitudes towards law enforcement by so many – they still show up every single day and make a difference in the communities they serve," Yoes said.
Police misconduct and brutality have been at the top of the American conscience in the year since a White, now-former police officer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes; Floyd later died. Chauvin has since been convicted of murder, but Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests and ignited the defund the police movement. Congress is currently mulling sweeping police reform legislation in an effort to hold cops more accountable for misconduct.
Yoes acknowledges that police have more work to do in certain communities to build trust and common respect, which he says are the "cornerstone" of American policing. But he said the anti-police sentiment and policies are also creating a long-term "crisis" for communities, as more police retire or choose other professions and police academies can't fill the backlog of vacancies quickly enough.
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"If you look at the constant and relentless attacks by public officials and by media, it is disheartening for law enforcement and, not only that, in my opinion, we're creating a crisis that is going to take us years to overcome," Yoes added.