At The Washington Post last week, Radley Balko wrote a great article, In the end, 2015 Saw No “War on Cops” and No “National Crime Wave.” As he noted, this was supposed to be because of all the supposed anti-cop rhetoric and so on. But the data are in and it shows that there is no spike in violence against the police. In fact, the numbers from this year continue the downward trend of police fatalities that started in the mid-1970s. It is safer to be a police offer than it has been in well over a century.
But think about that supposed anti-cop rhetoric. I don’t recall any anti-cop rhetoric. Every person of any power who was critical of policing always went far out of their way to say that most officers were great at their jobs. This is at best an exaggeration. But the fact that everyone felt the need to continue to lick the boots of law enforcement shows just how much power and inexplicable goodwill that people have for the police. It was only the police unions and other advocates who equated criticism of systemic problems and individual officers with attacks on the police generally.
As for crime, well, that too is down. We have some statistics via Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime (pdf). It is “a group of 150 of the country’s most prominent current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, district and state’s attorneys, US Attorneys, attorneys general, and other law enforcement leaders…” And they reported:
Remember back to why crime was supposedly spiking: police officers were not doing their jobs because they were vewy vewy awraid. So if crime had increased, wouldn’t that have been the fault of the police? Shouldn’t we have reacted badly toward them and not their critics? After all, don’t we have to sit through their royal-like funerals because their jobs are just so dangerous? Isn’t this why we must be now and forever on hands and knees licking their boots? I understand their whining; I’d hate to be a police officer. But I don’t see why the rest of us should put up with the whining. Policing is one of the few good-paying jobs left in America that someone can get with only a high school education.
Despite the fact that violent crime is low and getting lower, Americans think that it was up this year. I think we know why this is. The whining of police officers has an effect. But it’s strange that we put up with it. Would we ever accept teachers going around whining that students were really stupid and that’s why they weren’t doing their jobs? No, we’d tell them to shut up. But since it is the police, it’s somehow acceptable. So in addition to doing at best a mediocre job, the police are spreading lies and fear.
As Radley Balko concluded, “It’s one thing to give in to fear when crime really is on the rise. But it would be tragic if the opportunity we have today to reform laws was thwarted by [this] sort of fact-free fear.”