The stats are out for police officer deaths in the line of duty and the numbers are shocking. All-cause mortality jumped an astonishing 55% over 2020 making it the worst year ever to be a police officer. The three biggest vectors for the statistics were Covid, traffic accidents, and firearms deaths.
Firearm deaths jumped 38% from the previous year. A third of those deaths were attributed to ambush attacks, which were almost unheard of in the previous decade. Assaults against officers are also up, with over 60,000 being reported to the FBI in the first three quarters of 2021 alone. Some may argue that the year was an anomaly due to Covid, but it is hard to ignore the rise in violence against the police.
Morale among the Blue is at an all-time low with jurisdictions defunding the police and officers leaving the profession in droves. Democrat run cities across the country voted to cut police budgets by millions, and in some cases over a billion, only to find out that crime rose in those cities immediately. City Councils and politicians backtracked and tried to fix the shortfalls by re-allocating funding. What these cities are discovering is that it is much easier to destroy something than to build something new.
Police departments have spent decades figuring out what works in each specific community. New York City has much different policing needs than San Diego for example. Removing funding and vilifying the police has shown that it is much easier to spout theories that have never been tested than to have those pie-in-the-sky ideas work. Jurisdictions that have tried switching to a ‘community-based’ model are discovering such a model does not deter crime and puts everyone at risk.
The current climate for law enforcement has made it difficult to recruit officers. Cities have been forced to lower their standards. When that happens, there is a higher risk of a high-profile mistake that will result in more protests and further discourage people from joining the thin blue line. We are in danger of entering a vicious cycle where no high-quality candidates will want to join the force. That is unwelcome news for all of us.