There has been much talk about a “war on police” in 2015. The story goes that police in America are in great danger from a rise in violent attacks against them. It is suggested that the attacks are stirred up by criticisms and protests of police misconduct.
As the end of the year approaches, however, we find that the war on police is a myth, with deaths of police at near the record low. Instead, the war in America seems to be a war by — rather than on — police, with police killing about three people a day this year.
Radley Balko presents the numbers on shooting deaths of police in a Tuesday Washington Post article. Balko relays that, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 38 cops have been shot dead in America this year. Balko further notes that this number includes “at least one suicide and two cases in which a cop was shot by another cop.” The 2015 gun-related deaths of police, Balko relates, are among the least of any year from the last nearly 150 years of data.
There are occasions when a cop is killed just for being a cop. But, this is far rarer than many media reports and statements from police and politicians would suggest. For example, some people jumped to blame the killing of Fox Lake, Illinois cop Joseph Gliniewicz in September on a war on police. But, evidence was later made public indicating Gliniewicz, who was worried about potential repercussions for his misconduct including embezzlement, orchestrated his suicide to make it look like he had been murdered while investigating suspicious individuals.
A couple years earlier, Texas cop Adam Sowder was shot dead by Henry Magee when Sowder and eight other cops conducted a raid on Magee’s home. A grand jury declined to indict Magee who had explained that he acted to defend his family from the cops who he thought were robbers.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on December 26 an assessment that police shot dead nearly 1,000 people this year, and Mapping Police Violence calculated that, through December 15, police killed, at least 1,152 people this year in America. Among the killed individuals are people who were justifiably shot to end an immediate threat to kill or seriously injure others. But, the lives lost include also individuals who posed no such threat.
In 2015, people around America have been drawn to the stories of some of the individuals who police have killed without apparent justification. Consider the deaths of Noel Aguilar in Long Beach, California; Eric Garner in New York, New York; Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland; Jeremy Mardis in Marksville, Louisiana; Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois; Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio; and Christian Taylor in Arlington, Texas. Then ask yourself this question: Is there a war on police or a war on us?