The number of police officers killed by gunfire on duty has doubled this year, even as President Barack Obama hinted racism on the part of state and local police officers may contribute to the deaths of African-American civilians during stressful confrontations.
So far, 32 cops and correctional officers have been killed by gunfire in 2016. The deaths include at least eight killed in military-style attacks by African-American political radicals.
That’s up from a total of 16 dead in 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The site tracks police and correctional officers killed in routine crime, accidents, and in ambush-style quasi-military attacks, such as the July 7 killing of five cops in Dallas.
The latest casualty in what some critics say is a “War on Cops” was Captain Dave Melton, who was shot and killed July 9 while searching for a suspect in Kansas City. The gunman escaped.
After the shocking July 7 Dallas attack, Obama increased his rhetorical support for the police, although he still insisted that the nation’s law-enforcement system is racist.
We’re here to honor the memory, and mourn the loss, of five fellow Americans — to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try and find some meaning amidst our sorrow … [but] with an open heart, police departments will acknowledge that, just like the rest of us, they are not perfect; that insisting we do better to root out racial bias is not an attack on cops, but an effort to live up to our highest ideals.
Since the killing of three more cops in Baton Rouge, Obama has dropped his criticism of police, and has vehemently asked his supporters in the Black Lives Matter to stop violence and hateful rhetoric. “I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge,” said Obama’s formal statement, which was targeted to his radical supporters, including those in the Black Lives Matter movement.
These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop … there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None. These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes. The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best.
Obama’s appeal to the Black Lives Matter movement for peace comes amid growing public worry about escalating crime and violence during the run-up to the 2016 election. That public worry may translate into greater support for Donald Trump, who has repeatedly emphasized his support for cops.
Obama began stepping up his criticism of police just before the 2014 election, when a policeman shot an African-American youth in Ferguson, Mo., who was attacking him. In the subsequent election, GOP legislators won control of the Senate, prompting Obama to blame his loss on poor turnout by African-Americans.
Amid Obama’s criticism of police, hundreds of Americans have been killed by a rising murder rate.
In this election year, Obama has sharply stepped up his criticism of police. He’s pushing a plan to effectively federal state and local police forces, and is working closely with Blacks Lives Matter advocates and other African-America advocates, such as Al Sharpton, to urge greater political action by African-Americans.
The 2016 toll of 32 dead cops does not include wounded cops who survived shootings. For example, the July 17 attack on police in Baton Rouge by a black militant killed three police and wounded and additional three. In Dallas, seven police were wounded and survived the sniper-style attack by another African-American radical.
Police in several states have been shot and wounded in ambush-style attacks since the Dallas attack, including in Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri.
The doubling of police deaths stands in contrast to a seven percent drop in auto-related deaths, down to 26 in 2016.