Shootings by police officers highlight a rise in violence and distrust


Over the course of a day last Wednesday, several police officers from departments across the country were shot in the line of duty.

In Decatur, Illinois, two police officers were shot while making a traffic stop, and officers shot and killed the suspect, police said.

In Philadelphia, three SWAT team members were shot while executing a warrant, and officers shot and killed the subject, officials said.

And in Bristol, Connecticut, three officers were shot — two fatally — in an ambush while responding to a report of a domestic disturbance, and the surviving officer shot and killed the subject, police said.

The suspect fired more than 80 shots at police, according to a news release from the Connecticut Inspector General’s Office.

In all, from Monday to Friday last week, 13 police officers were shot – amid an increased level of violence against law enforcement officers this year. From the beginning of the year through Sept. 30, 252 officers had been shot, 50 of them fatally, according to the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization that represents U.S. law enforcement officers.

Bristol Police Sgt.  Dustin Demonte, left, and Officer Alex Hamzy, center, were killed and Officer Alec Iurato was wounded in an ambush on Oct. 12, police said.

The number of officers shot represents a 5% increase over the same period in 2021 and a 6% increase over the same period in 2020, according to the organization’s data. Last year, 73 officers were intentionally killed in the line of duty, the highest number since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to FBI data.

The Fraternal Order of Police figures differ from FBI data, which shows 49 aggravated murders and 10 fatal ambushes, down slightly from last year’s total.

“I’m outraged. I’m disgusted. I wonder where the level of outrage and outrage is outside of the law enforcement community,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “Right now, things are wrong because the level of violence that we’re seeing against our law enforcement officers, is just as outrageous.”

The increase in violence against police officers in the past few years mirrors the broader increase in shootings and violence in the United States since 2020.

Criminology experts such as Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice, have cited a few potential explanations: the fraying of social connections due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the murder of George Floyd and the resulting increase in public distrust of the police and an increase in firearms sales and gun ownership.

While the explanations for any violent crime vary, the FBI has tried to piece together an explanation for why some people attack police officers. A 2016 report, summarized in an FBI document released to law enforcement agencies in May 2017, examined 50 shootings by police officers and found that the two key motives of the assailants were a desire to escape arrest (40%) and their hatred of the police (28%) ).

There have been 63 “ambush attacks” on officers so far this year, resulting in 93 officers shot, including 24 fatally, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.

Officials said last week’s fatal shooting in Bristol, which left two officers dead and one seriously injured, was one such incident. Police had received a 911 call about a possible domestic incident between two siblings and arrived to find a suspect shooting at them, authorities said. Officials described the 911 call as “a deliberate act to lure law enforcement to the scene.”

Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said the fallen officers epitomized police bravery, as so many officers do every day.

“They answered a call for service and they responded without hesitation,” he said. “And that’s what they did every night before that. And that’s what all of our officers are doing and will continue to do.”

There are even risks for the officers who are not on duty. In Raleigh, North Carolina, a 15-year-old opened fire on Thursday, killing five people, including Gabriel Torres, a 29-year-old on-duty police officer who was on his way to work. Two people, including a responding officer, were also shot and wounded. The suspect is hospitalized in critical condition and will be charged as an adult, the authorities say.

In one of four 911 calls obtained by CNN, a caller told a dispatcher that the shooter was wearing camouflage and looked like he was 16. The caller said the gunman “walked by and shot” a police officer “for no reason.” ”

Outlaw, the Philadelphia police commissioner, said she felt a pit in her stomach when she learned last week that three of her department’s officers had been shot.

“We signed up to do this to understand the risk, understand the danger, but we didn’t sign up for these jobs to be martyrs. We just didn’t,” she said.

“It must go beyond people like myself, police chiefs or superintendents or commissioners who speak out against this. Everyone needs to come together and recognize that violence against our police officers is intolerable, just as violence in other parts of our society is also intolerable.”

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