Police, violence, and jaywalking
I read a dramatic, inflammatory, and completely absurd comment on a blog at the Huffington Post that caught my eye. It said something to this effect: you mean Michael Brown was shot for jaywalking?
No. Michael Brown was not shot because he was jaywalking. But the comment reminded me of an experience I had many years ago.
I was crossing in the middle of a street when I noticed a police officer approach on his motorcycle. I had no idea what was going on and looked around for evidence of criminal activity. By the time I made it onto the sidewalk, I realized the officer was there for me. I was baffled and asked the officer what I had done wrong. He said I had jaywalked and proceeded to write me a ticket. I was mortified as people stared at me, curious about what was going on.
The encounter felt like it took forever, even though it only last a few minutes. The officer was professional, cited the law about jaywalking, gave me my ticket, and we both were on our way.
Such encounters really are that simple. But apparently some folks don’t get it.
It is staggering to read about the number of assaults against police officers. Here’s a small sampling:
Punched, kicked, pushed, stabbed, shot.
…Assaults against officers in the state have more than doubled in the last five years. (snip)
Before we jump in, we should note that assaults are broadly defined…Most involve fists and feet rather than weapons.
The Boulder Police Department is on pace for an increase this year in the number of assaults on its officers.
It would be the third straight year of rising cop-assault numbers for the department, and statewide statistics indicate it may be more than just a Boulder problem.
The head of the Alaska State Troopers says officers are dealing with more aggressive behavior from suspects. The comments from Col. Keith Mallard came after Friday's deadly trooper-involved shooting on the Glenn highway near Thunderbird Falls. Mallard says 29 year-old Justin Lloyd Abrahamson was shot and killed after "assaultive" behavior with a bat. Officers had tried different attempts to subdue Abrahamson, including the use of a taser. It is the sixth trooper-involved shooting in 2012 and the first to end deadly.
"We take every step possible to apprehend a suspect but really when an individual becomes assaultive, that risks the police officer's life, or someone else's," says Col. Mallard.
The number of assaults against police officers in Connecticut has averaged around 714 per year from 1997-2006, the last year for which consistent data is available.
Recently, after noticing national trends, the West Virginia State Police released information related to instances of assaults upon police officers in West Virginia. The number of committed assaults was staggering. Since January 1, 2011, nationally, there have been seventeen line of duty deaths. A majority of these deaths involved a suspect using a firearm….
The FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program recently published information which causes additional concern. Comparing data from 1980 and 2009, LEOKA concluded that there has been an approximate 57% increase in ambush killings of police officers….
Not only are officers in West Virginia being assaulted physically, but also financially. In our litigious society, each time an officer has to physically take control and command of a situation involving a suspect, the possibility of a lawsuit being filed increases….
Eleven officers have been shot and two killed here in Memphis in the last two years.
That number is representative of the entire state of Tennessee where shootings against officers are up.
A study released by the TBI shows the number of officers shot or assaulted increased three percent last year.
In 2011 1826 Tennessee law enforcement officers were killed or injured and in 2012 that number jumped up to 1883 reports.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong says officers are facing pressure and hostility in the streets.
“It’s troubling to know that there are that many individuals who would bracingly attack a police officer, especially an officer that is clearly in uniform and identifiable as being a law enforcement officer,” said Armstrong. (snip)
“Our officers are encountering more suspects that are armed and more suspects that are willing to attack officers. So that is a big concern and it should be a big concern to our citizens as well,” said Armstrong.
Unfortunately, attacks on law enforcement officers are rising in California and our area.
According to The Sun:
More than 6,000 peace officers in San Bernardino County have been victims of assaults and threats in the last three years, including 2,100 in 2012 alone. More than 600 of the 2012 incidents involved felonies, including officers being struck, shot at or threatened with injury or death.
According to the FBI, 72 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2011. Another 53 officers died in accidents while performing their duties, and 54,774 officers were assaulted in the line of duty….
What is going on?
I have no answers. Only enormous respect for the men and women who, for their livelihood, deal with all manner of hassles at best, life-threatening dangers at worst.
Someone’s got to do it. And I’m ever-grateful to those who sign up for this job, go through the grueling training that is required, and hit the ground running on our behalf every single day.