As the number of police officers killed in ambush attacks rises in a way that is “shocking and unprecedented in recent history,” as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said in a statement, police departments around the country are putting in place measures that they hope will protect their officers.
The Boston Police Department said on Twitter that “in light of the tragedy in Dallas,” its officer patrols would begin operating in pairs. Following the killing of three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday, the department told its officers to use extra caution.
New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton told CBS News on Sunday that his department is keeping officers safe by arming them with smartphones that alert them to dangerous individuals. In another CBS interview, he said his plainclothes officers would “for the time being” work in uniform and those in solo patrols would “double up” because of the Dallas and Baton Rouge killings.
“We are in perilous times at the moment,” Bratton told CBS. “We are sailing in unchartered waters, and everywhere we look we’re in harm’s way—not just the police, but the public.”
In March, prior to the most recent police killings, the NYPD released a video on its officer safety measures, saying the department was putting in place “new equipment, enhanced training and the latest technology.” Those measures included new bulletproof squad car doors, new bullet- and stab-resistant vests, stronger pepper spray and more guns.
Thirty-one law enforcement officers have died in gun-related incidents so far this year, a 72 percent increase over the 18 killed at this point last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that maintains the national monument to fallen officers in Washington, D.C., and keeps statistics on officer deaths. More cops have died in ambush shootings so far this year than in all of 2015. They were “assassinated because of the uniform that they wear, the job that they do,” Craig Floyd, president and CEO of the Memorial Fund, told Newsweek earlier this month.
Those figures include five officers who were killed in Dallas on July 7 by Micah Johnson, following protests there over the officer-involved fatal shootings of two black men that week, in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
They also include the shooting deaths on Sunday in Baton Rouge of three officers, identified as Corporal Montrell Jackson and Officer Matthew Gerald of the Baton Rouge Police Department, and Deputy Sheriff Brad Garafola of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Additional officers were wounded. The gunman was identified as Gavin Long, a U.S. military veteran who also died in the incident.
Unlike earlier killings of police officers, the most recent incidents seem to have been inspired by the anti-cop rhetoric that has been growing since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, which inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters following the incident there that the suspect “said he was upset about the recent police shootings” and that he had “stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”
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SOURCE: Newsweek, Max Kutner