A police officer has been shot nearly every day this year as a growing wave of shootings and other attacks across the country claimed the lives of four officers in less than a month.
Through the first 24 days of the year, gunmen opened fire on cops 22 times, killing three officers, according to data from the National Gun Violence Archive.
Another four officers have been ambushed in vehicle attacks. One incident resulted in the death of a Houston police officer over the weekend.
Even two police dogs have died in the line of duty: one stabbed by a suspect and the other killed by a passenger car during a traffic stop.
Last year was the deadliest on record for police officers, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
In 2021, 62 officers were fatally shot in the line of duty, a 38% increase from the 45 killed by firearms in 2020.
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This year is on pace to shatter last year’s record. Former officers say anti-police rhetoric is fueling the attacks.
“With the current political climate and the left vilifying police officers, it’s open season. There is no way I could be a cop in today’s world,” said Teddy Daniels, who spent 15 years as an officer in suburban Philadelphia.
Law enforcement officials say the crisis has been exacerbated by changes demanded by social justice activists that have reshaped the criminal justice system. The changes include more lenient charges and the reduction or elimination of bail, resulting in the return of violent offenders to the streets at a pace unseen before.
“The pendulum always swings back and forth, and right now, it’s as far away from law and order as I’ve ever seen it,” said Mike McGrew, a 35-year veteran of the police force who co-founded a charity for officers who have post-traumatic stress disorder. “I understand there are a lot of opportunities for rehabilitation, but incarceration works when you have violent people.”
Mr. Daniels called for a return to “broken windows” policing. Under the theory, police would target low-level crimes such as loitering, drug offenses and prostitution to prevent more severe crimes.
Broken windows policing was credited with reducing New York’s violent crime numbers in the mid-1990s.
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“Broken windows set the tone for aggressive prosecution,” Mr. Daniels said. “We stopped locking people up for small crimes.”
Both officers said prosecutors no longer pursue minor crimes are part of a multifaceted attack on law enforcement that includes anti-police rhetoric.
The job has always been dangerous, but when you start to see just specifically targeting them and going after them because of the badge, it is really concerning,” said Mr. McGrew. “When I was a cop, about 10% of the people I came into contact with were going to hate me. Now it’s about 20% because of what we’ve seen from the mainstream media.”
Politicians across the country were quick to condemn the weekend attacks.
In New York, where one officer was killed and a second was gravely injured while responding to a domestic violence call Friday night, Mayor Eric Adams announced sweeping proposals to tackle gun crimes.
“We are going to do a lot more than pray. We are going to turn our pain into purpose,” Mr. Adams said in remarks from City Hall. “We will not surrender our city to the violent few … and we won’t go back to the bad old days.”
Mr. Adams vowed to crack down on illegal guns by dispatching officers to 30 precincts where he said 80% of the violence takes place. He also pledged to boost funding for the New York Police Department’s gun violence suppression division, which targets gun traffickers.
He promised social safety net remedies, including expanding summer youth programs, increasing aid for adults who have aged out of foster care and pushing for “community hiring” legislation that would mandate more local jobs.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday defended Mr. Biden’s record on tackling violent crime. She insisted that the president is focused on reducing gun violence.
“The president is never going to be satisfied or complacent when officers are being gunned down or when Americans have to worry about whether they can safely ride the subway or bus or even be at work,” she said.
The bloodshed began Friday night in New York when three officers responded to a report of a domestic violence incident in Harlem involving a mother and her adult son.
Police said Lashawn McNeil opened fire on the officers, killing rookie NYPD officer Jason Rivera, 22, and wounding 27-year-old Wilbert Mora.
Mr. Mora is in a hospital fighting for his life.
A third officer returned fire, wounding Mr. McNeil, who was hospitalized in critical condition.
The carnage continued Sunday in attacks just hours apart in Houston and the District of Columbia.
Cpl. Charles Galloway, a constable for Texas’ Harris County, was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop in southwest Houston at 12:45 a.m.
Police offered a $60,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of Oscar Rosales.
Prosecutors charged two of Mr. Rosales’ family members with tampering with evidence, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told reporters.
Another Harris County law enforcement official was killed Monday morning. Harris County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ramon Gutierrez, who was off duty, used his motorcycle to block an exit ramp in Houston to assist a driver when a car swerved around his bike and struck him.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Lavilla Spry took off from the scene but was later arrested and accused of drunken driving.
In the District, a Metropolitan Police officer was wounded after a gunman opened fire. The officer’s injuries were not life-threatening, but the shooter remains at large.
Police Chief Robert Contee III said two officers approached a man because he seemed “suspicious,” but did not elaborate. The officers did not appear to return fire, Chief Contee said.
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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