This is starting to look like a trend.
In Dallas, on July 7, five officers were killed and nine were wounded in what was the deadliest event for police since 9/11. Yesterday, just 11 days later, three more officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when a shooter fatally opened fire in what Louisiana State Police described as an “ambush” on the officers. On July 8th in Bristol, Tennessee, a man opened fire on a highway, killing one person and wounding three others, including a police officer. Authorities said he was motivated to target police because of recent events surrounding violence by police against black Americans.
On the same day, in Ballwin, Missouri, an officer was shot in the back of the neck during a routine traffic stop. Authorities said that the shooter got out of his vehicle and fired as the officer was moving towards his patrol car. In Valdosta, Georgia, a man lured a police officer to his house with a 911 call and ambushed him – the officer’s life was saved by his bullet-proof vest. And in Roswell, Georgia, a motorist targeted a police officer by firing at his patrol car. In total, eight officers have been killed and 13 have been wounded over the past two weeks in deliberate attacks on law enforcement.
All of these cases comprise an even more alarming pattern. As of the shooting in Baton Rouge yesterday, 31 officers have been shot to death in 2016. That number is up 72 percent from 18 deaths this time last year, and 2016 is the first time in several years that shooting has been the cause of the majority of police deaths. Normally, that cause is traffic-related.
Some additional context: only four Americans have been killed during the operation in Afghanistan this year, only one of whom was killed in hostile conflict. And the Israeli Defense Force – the bulk of whose work involves protecting citizens from active terrorist networks – only had six operative deaths caused by violent activity in all of 2015.
Sadly, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. The violence we have seen in recent weeks is entirely different from the “run-of-the-mill” death by shooting that police have always been faced with; these attacks have been deliberately targeted assassination attempts by shooters against police officers, which is very different from say, an officer dying in a firefight after responding to an armed robbery. In this type of environment, law enforcement officials need to be routinely concerned that they could be targeted by a deranged shooter, which is something we shouldn’t play politics with.