The recent mass shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge earlier this month has some conservatives rushing to place blame on the Obama administration. Others chose to point the finger at Black Lives Matter for their “anti-police” rhetoric and efforts to spur an all-out “war on cops.”
A tweet from former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh blamed “Obama’s words & [Black Lives Matter]’s deeds” for getting cops killed, while Rep. Roger Williams (R-Tex.) issued a statement attributing the “spread of misinformation and constant instigation” of hostility between police and the communities they serve to prominent leaders like Pres. Obama.
Thursday night during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump incorrectly reported a rise in the number of police officers killed in the line of duty, further fueling the false and inflammatory notion of a “war on cops.”
“The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year,” Trump stated.
However, data released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund shows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The organization, which tracks police shootings daily, found that the number of cops who died as of July 20 only increased slightly; 67 total fatalities compared to 62 during this same time last year. These numbers include deaths from a variety of causes, such as traffic fatalities, PBS News Hour reports.
The data also shows that police are statistically safer on America’s streets than they’ve been in decades. According to the Washington Post, intentional attacks on police officers are at historically low levels under Pres. Obama.
Statistics from the Officers Down Memorial Page indicates a downward trend in intentional police killings. For example, the average number of police officers intentionally killed during the Reagan years was 101; that number then fell to 90 under George H.W. Bush. The trend continued with Bill Clinton at an average of 81 intentional police killings, to 72 deaths per year under George Bush, according to the data.
The average number of police intentionally killed each year is at its lowest level yet under Pres. Obama, sitting at just 62 fatalities.
The statistics are enough to silence fear mongering conservatives and throw a wrench in the idea that there’s a war on cops.
Since the fatal attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Black Lives Matter has denounced the senseless killings, which were both carried out by African-American shooters. Activists in the movement have taken to the streets time and time again to bring attention to the deaths of Black women, men, and children at the hands of police. Thus, the objective isn’t a “war on cops,” but a call for an end to police brutality.
This fear of a non-existent war on cops has only caused police departments around the country to request more military-style equipment to handle “emergency situations,” such as the large protests spurred by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
According to Reuters, the White House is planning to revisit a 2015 ban that blocked police forces from receiving riot gear, armored vehicles, and other military-grade equipment from the U.S. armed forces. The ban was imposed after public outcry and complaints over police in cities like Ferguson, Missouri who used military-grade riot gear and armored trucks to gain control of police brutality protests.
During a meeting last week, law enforcement leaders urged Obama to reinstate military equipment like helmets, grenade launchers, and tracked armored vehicles in order to ensure the safety of their officers during violent protests, the publication reports.
“The White House thought this kind of gear was intimidating to people, but they didn’t know the purpose it serves,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.
According to Pasco, Obama will request that White House chief legal counsel Neil Eggleston review the ban.