In recent weeks there have been a number of stories in the media about the “war on cops” or the “war on police”. Several recent, tragic deaths of police officers in different parts of the country have been used as evidence that police are under a greater threat now than they were in the past. One of the reasons that police are at a greater risk now than before, the argument goes, is due to an increase in the demonization of police officers by people protesting against the treatment that minority groups receive from police. Groups such as Black Lives Matter (which, it should be noted, is far from an hierarchically structured organization that speaks with one voice) have been blamed for inciting people to attack and murder police officers. Such blame has then been used as an excuse to disregard issues such as police brutality and racial profiling that have frequently been raised in these protests.
Simple research and data shows these claims to be patently false. 2013 was the safest year in the history of the United States for police, and police deaths have been trending down for decades.
As a country, we are beginning (in some ways) to engage in a great and contentious national discussion about race and police relations with African-American, Latino, and Native American communities. The grievances of communities that have been marginalized throughout the history of the United States should be listened to and acted upon. Practical considerations for change among law enforcement should be discussed, with neither the views of protesters or the police being treated as unimportant. Misconceptions such as the “war on police” are dangerous and can rip existing divisions in this country apart.
We should all be concerned with surrounding ourselves with the most accurate facts and data when it comes to such an important and relevant issue. To do otherwise is to do a great disservice to ourselves and our communities.