In 2014 there were 50 officers shot and killed in the line of duty. As of September 3, 2015 there were 26 officers shot and killed in 2015.
Each of those 26 lives matter, not only because they were humans but because they were humans who risked their lives to keep the society safe. At the same time, 26 is nearly half the number of officers lost to gun-related deaths in 2014.
Yet there is a good chance you would not know officer deaths are down if you rely on certain media or social coverage to get your news.
The Daily Herald makes the point that while media outlets, in general, show a degree of restraint when reporting on an officer-involved shooting, social media is not so forgiving. For example, the Herald points out that they knew the Lt. Charles J. Gliniewicz had been killed “within an hour” of police rushing to an officer down call–but they did not report his name out of respect for his family and commitment to giving authorities time to contact the family and share the heart-wrenching news.
Social media had no such filter. It was immediate. Moreover, it was via social mediate that different configurations of suspects were listed and questions about racial motivations were floated. One commentator asked, “Is this a case of another black-on-white crime that is not being reported?” Popular 24-hour television news outlets were also hung on the rumor of female suspect and would not let it go.
However, a constant in the information coming forth from police and police spokespersons on September 1 and 2 was that there were three suspects–two white males and one black male.
Here’s one other important point–NPR shows that the 50 officers killed with firearms in 2014 represented less than half of the number officers who died in the line of duty in that year alone. That is another important facet of the story that gets covered up amid the feeding frenzy surrounding firearm-related officer deaths.
There were a total of 126 officers who died in the line of duty from all causes in 2014. Among these deaths, 49 were auto accident-related and 24 other deaths were the result of “job-related illnesses—such as heart attacks.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.