Ambush attacks against police officers are on the rise, with an alarming number of incidents being reported in recent years. Across the country, police officers have been targeted in ambush attacks, leaving many feeling vulnerable and uncertain about their safety. It is essential that we understand why these attacks are happening and how we can work to prevent them from occurring. In this blog post, we will explore the rise in attacks on police officers, the potential causes behind them, and the steps we can take to protect our police from further harm.
The current state of affairs
Ambush attacks continue to be the number one way police officers are attacked. Year over year, ambush attacks account for 20% of the attacks on police officers. In Arizona, 21 officers were shot or killed in 2022. Sixteen of those attacks were ambush-style attacks. Even with changes in policy and training, these types of assaults still occur. The results of ambush attacks can be catastrophic as they leave officers unprepared and vulnerable in a very dangerous situation. When an officer is ambushed they don’t have enough time or resources to properly respond and defend themselves or protect those around them. Even if an officer is armed and prepared for a potential attack, it doesn’t guarantee that they will survive an ambush from an assailant with a firearm. It’s important that we recognize the severity and implications that ambush attacks have for police officers and take appropriate steps to protect them from these threats. We need better support from our community leaders and elected officials. We need to send a message that these attacks will not be tolerated and attackers are making the worse decision that they can possibly make.
The increase in violence
Over the last few years, violent attacks against police officers have increased. In 2022, law enforcement saw one of the highest number of attacks on police officers since the late 90s. Already this year, the number of police officers shot is already up 109% compared to this same time last year. It is estimated that 50% of police officer deaths in 2020 are from ambush-style attacks alone. This increase in ambush-style attacks led to several states introducing bills that would provide additional protection for police officers in the line of duty. Some states have proposed laws requiring suspects who opened fire on an officer to serve a minimum prison sentence of five years. Other states are looking into providing funds to equip each patrol car with bulletproof glass and armored vests for all its police officers. The hope is that these measures will help protect officers from ambushes and other sudden violence while they are serving their communities. Unfortunately, not all states are able to provide such protection for their officers due to budget constraints. Nor, would equipment alone solve the problem for every situation. Ultimately, it is up to both law enforcement and civilians alike to ensure that officers are properly protected while serving their communities. With more public support and the implementation of additional protection measures, hopefully more lives can be saved and ambush-style attacks can be reduced in the future.
The possible reasons for the increase
One of the possible explanations for the increased number of ambush attacks on police officers is a greater sense of alienation between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This has caused a sense of mistrust and anger in certain areas, which can lead to individuals feeling justified in taking extreme measures like attacking police officers. Despite efforts by many police departments to work with communities, anti-police rhetoric continues to fight against those efforts and further increases the divide between the community and police department.
Another reason for this increase could be the spread of misinformation about law enforcement and its practices. This includes false stories about police brutality and use of excessive force, as well as exaggerated or false reports of police misbehavior. This misinformation can create an atmosphere of resentment and aggression against police officers, making them more likely to become targets of ambush attacks.
The impact on law enforcement
Instead of support from community leaders in trying to bring departments and communities back together, we are seeing a mass exodus of police officers across the country. Good police officers, afraid of being accused of something they didn't do or killed simply for trying to serve their communities are leaving in catastrophic numbers. A recent poll showed that 66% of police officers said that if given the opportunity, they would leave their job for another line of work. This shift away from law enforcement is reaching levels that will have communities scrambling for law enforcement protection and departments changing requirements for the worse. As morale continues to decrease and staffing declines further, ambush attacks will likely increase as criminals take advantage of weakened forces.
What needs to be done
Community leaders and politicians need to recognize that all communities want law enforcement in their neighborhoods. Instead of defunding, bad-mouthing, and demonizing police, leaders, and politicians should be working with departments and organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police, to find solutions to bring communities and departments back together. A spotlight needs to shine on the ambush attacks that are plaguing our nation's police forces. Stricter penalties for ambushing a police officer, public support for law enforcement, and recruiting efforts need to be the focus. Building strong police departments and implementing meaningful community programs that build partnerships rather than divide, needs to be priority number one. Get it out of the minds of criminals that ambush-style attacks are the way to solve their problems.
Help support efforts to stop these attacks on our police officers. Ask your legislator to vote yes on HB2485 by sending a pre-filled email. Click here to get started!