Concerned about their members’ safety following a deadly two-week stretch, the Fraternal Order of Police and National Association of Police Organizations are calling on Congress and the Obama administration to act.
Since mid-August, five officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty, according to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page. And at a time when tensions between the public and law enforcement are running high, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) are concerned for the safety of their members.
There is a very real and very deliberate campaign to terrorize our nation’s law enforcement officers.
“It is a difficult and dangerous time to be a police officer, and not just because the increased violence is aimed at us,” FOP President Chuck Canterbury said in a statement last week. “The vitriol, the hateful screeds and statements of those we are sworn to protect and defend, as well as public calls to kill and injure police officers, are horrifying.”
Canterbury said media coverage and social media activity are fueling the rhetoric. “They have been given a platform by the media to convey the message that police officers are their enemy and it is time to attack that enemy from ambush, from hiding,” he said. “Social media accounts are full of hatred and calls to target and kill police officers. There is a very real and very deliberate campaign to terrorize our nation’s law enforcement officers.”
Because of the “volatile social climate,” Canterbury said, officers who make split-second decisions are forced to choose between protecting their own lives or potentially losing their job in certain situations.
FOP and NAPO called into question the lack of response from Washington.
“Our elected officials are quick to console the families of the fallen and praise us for the difficult and dangerous work that we do every day,” said Canterbury. “Yet, too many are silent when the hate speech floods the media with calls for violence against police or demands that police stand down and give them ‘room to destroy.’”
As for concrete steps, FOP offered the Obama administration and Congress several recommendations: expand the federal hate crime laws to include violence against police, reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program—a Department of Justice initiative that provided funding for police departments to purchase bulletproof vests—and fund assistance programs that provide resources and equipment to local police departments.
FOP members “should take heed of their own elected officials at every level of government and know who is defending us and speaking for us and who is defending our attackers, be it on the streets or in the halls of power,” Canterbury said.