There have been 60 peace officers murdered in firearms-related cases this year to date, marking a 67 percent increase from last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund report. (Although Wayne State University Officer Colin Rose sadly brings the total to 61.)
Citing a preliminary report from January 1 through November 23, the organization said that Texas has seen the most fatalities this year with 18. So far, 130 officers have died nationwide, and can be reviewed on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Fox News reported the worst single attack was in July, when a black military veteran killed five white officers at a protest in Dallas — the deadliest day for American law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. Ten days later, a former Marine killed three Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers.
With the murder of Rose, the total is 61 in 2016 compared with 41 in all of 2015. San Antonio Detective Marconi was the 20th to die in an ambush-style attack, compared with eight last year, Craig W. Floyd, president of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, said.
An ambush-style attack does not necessarily involve someone lying in wait for police officers; it’s any shooting designed to catch police off guard and put them at a disadvantage, Floyd said.
“There usually is an element of surprise and concealment involved,” he said, and it’s unprovoked.
Police have been killed while writing reports, like Marconi was, or eating in restaurants. They’ve responded to 911 calls, only to have people shoot them as they get out of their cars. And in the Dallas shooting, an assassin in a building targeted them.
“In all the cases, the officers were essentially assassinated before they had any contact with the suspect or placed that suspect in jeopardy,” said Nick Breul, the Memorial Fund’s director of officer safety and wellness.
According to the Fox report, this year’s targeted killings are the most since 1995, Floyd said. In fact, Marconi’s was the fourth targeted slaying of an officer this month.
Two officers from Iowa were killed in related attacks Nov. 2, and a Pennsylvania officer was targeted as he responded to a domestic violence call Nov. 10.
The well-publicized attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge came amid protests over the shootings of black men by white officers, and were carried out by black gunmen — but race is not always a motivating factor, Floyd said.
In fact, he said, white men are responsible for most police slayings, and the majority of people shot and killed by police are white.
The report said some officers have been killed by people who identify with the so-called sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents believe they’re immune to most state and federal laws, including paying taxes and getting driver’s licenses. Gavin Long, the Baton Rouge shooter, had filed documents last year declaring himself sovereign.
The man who murdered the officers from Iowa earlier this month as they sat in their patrol cars had a history of contacts with police, including a recent confrontation with officers at a high school football game.
Others have been mentally ill.
“So much dialogue has centered around race relations, but there is a hatred in this country right now that’s just gotten out of control,” Floyd said. “There is a lack of respect for government in general, and the most visible and vulnerable symbol of government in America is patrolling our streets in marked cars.”