- - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

As a writer, I’ve gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied narcotics squads on drug raids, observed detectives investigating murders and other crimes, and I’ve interviewed police commanders and commissioners in station houses and police headquarters.

I’ve witnessed how police officers are treated with suspicion, spite and scorn by some. But I’ve also witnessed crime victims and frightened citizens who were relieved and comforted by an officer’s presence.

There is a growing anti-cop campaign in the country that unfairly labels all police officers racists, crooks and murderers. The campaign includes public rants, violent protests, excessive lawsuits, political posturing and unflattering portrayals in popular culture. And too often, this anti-cop crusade leads to the murder of a police officer, as we’ve seen in New York, San Antonio, Washington D.C., and other cities around the country.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s preliminary mid-year officer fatalities report for 2017, there was a 30 percent increase in police officers killed in line of duty compared to the same time period last year. As of June 30, the report reveals that 65 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, a rise from 50 officers killed in the line of duty during the first half of 2016.

In my view, there is nothing more dangerous than a cop killer. The criminal, terrorist or political activist who is willing to take on an armed police officer and murder him or her will not hesitate to kill anyone, anytime, anywhere. A cop killer is a total outlaw and a true menace to all of us.

Considering this dangerous and tragic trend, one begs to ask the question — is there a war on cops?

Who better to ask than Joseph Wambaugh, a former detective sergeant and 14-year-veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the author of classic police novels such as “The New Centurions” and “The Choirboys,” and true crime classics such as “The Onion Field”?

“Not a war,” Mr. Wambaugh replied. “But a guerrilla action by partisans of the left who primarily control the media, and those who live and die immersed in identity politics.

“Isn’t it ironic that the poster child of the ‘Ferguson Effect’ was seen on camera intimidating and manhandling a shopkeeper before his fatal encounter with the officer? The partisan critics have a hard time finding an absolutely blame-free victim.”

Mr. Wambaugh, speaking in regard to what he called the media hysteria about cops being systemic murderers, suggested we all take a closer look at the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, which resulted in a not-guilty verdict for second-degree manslaughter.

“Virtually every newsworthy police shooting results in an outcry for “better police training” when the fact is, cops in America are almost trained to death. A huge part of the law enforcement budget is spent on training, especially in community relations and in the handling of violent confrontations. But in that incident, the jury could see what the officer could see because of a patrol car camera. The officer on trial said with great emotion, “I didn’t want to shoot Mr. Castile. I thought I was going to die.” The officer can be seen screaming commands into the car, in terror and shock, and no fair person can think that 10 more years of non-stop training would have changed a thing.”

“The image of sudden death strikes in an instant and that officer’s survival instincts took over. Maybe another officer would have handled it differently, but there was no crime committed in this tragic case.”

While discussing the Ferguson riots and other violent street protests, I asked Mr. Wambaugh about the lessons he learned as an LAPD officer.

“The Watts Riot in 1965 taught me that the threat of overwhelming force works to quiet things down. We had no automatic weapons, but when the National Guard finally showed up a couple of days after it started, and a few of those young cowboys fired theirs to get the attention of looters, the streets quickly became quiet and deserted,” Mr. Wambaugh recalled. “Also, I learned that the average arrestee knew nothing about the incident that supposedly triggered what some critics called “an uprising of rage at the white establishment and their blue oppressors.” The vast majority of rioters, who were not angry at all, simply said in statements that they knew nothing of the arrest that supposedly caused the riot, but smashed, burned and looted because ‘everybody else was doing it.’ The media at that time were just getting started with the ‘police training’ rhetoric, which they have perfected by now.”

Should the war on cops concern all of us?

“What is happening today that should shock everyone is the unprovoked assassination of police officers by people with a perceived grievance,” Mr. Wambaugh said. “That’s a flagrant attack on all of us and emits a whiff of anarchy.”

• Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism.

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