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As assaults on law enforcement hit 10-year high, police union says officers 'treated like scum'


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The rate of assaults on U.S. law enforcement officers reached a 10-year high last year, with 79,000 attacks on officers recorded, according to national FBI data released Tuesday. 

Sixty officers nationwide were killed last year — one fewer slain officer than the previous year — but more officers were killed between 2021 and 2023 than in any other three-year period to date, according to the agency’s Law Enforcement Killed and Assaulted data collection. 

The number of state, federal and local officers assaulted and injured by guns is also climbing, according to the data.

Guns were the most commonly-used weapons in officers’ deaths, according to the FBI data, with 52% of all officers killed in the line of duty dying of gunshot wounds. 

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Anti-Israel protesters yell at police line in San Francisco

Anti-Israel demonstrators gather outside the Tenderloin Police Station, shouting at police to set free an activist arrested during a ”Free Palestine” rally at Union Square in San Francisco Dec. 23, 2023. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)

More officers were killed in the southern U.S. than any other region, but an FBI spokesperson noted Monday that it is also the largest region. Last year, 20 officers were killed in southern states, compared to 32 the previous year. 

An FBI spokesperson told Fox News Digital that although cop killings were down last year from the previous year, a steady rise in assaults has prompted the agency to work to understand underlying reasons for the trend. 

Agencies reported that 466 officers were assaulted with guns in 2023, the highest level in a decade, the spokesperson said. For comparison, under 200 officers were assaulted with guns in 2014. 

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Officers assaulted by firearms FBI graph

Nationwide, 466 officers were assaulted with guns last year, according to FBI data. There has been an upward trend of these incidents, according to this graph shared by the agency. (FBI Handout)

The FBI data release comes during National Police Week. Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland and other law enforcement leaders gathered for a candlelit vigil to honor fallen officers in Washington, D.C. 

Just last month, four members of a U.S. Marshal’s Service task force were killed by a fugitive while trying to serve him a warrant for gun charges. Four more officers were wounded. 

Joe Gamaldi, vice president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, wasn’t surprised by the FBI’s findings. 

“There is no question that there is a war on cops in this country,” Gamaldi told Fox News Digital, comparing the FBI’s data with his own union’s. “There were 378 police officers shot last year. That is a record number since we started tracking the data in 2018. Shootings of police officers have increased by 60%.”

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Data of suspects who killed law enforcement officers in 2023

A breakdown of suspects who killed law enforcement officers in 2023, provided by the FBI. (FBI handout)

“(This year) is not shaping up much better, as we are outpacing 2023 YTD with nearly 150 police officers shot. For perspective, that is one police officer shot every 21 hours in America,” he said. “It is a stain on society and an embarrassment to our country.” 

Former FBI Special Agent Nicole Parker said she was “not shocked.”

“Particularly since the summer of 2020, in many cities, there has been a general demonization and disrespect for law enforcement – trust and respect for law enforcement has recently deteriorated,” Parker said. 

“Demonizing law enforcement makes it easier for individuals to justify assaulting or killing a law enforcement officer. Certain members of society believe law enforcement officers are the enemy – evil tyrants using excessive force, exerting their authority and infringing on their constitutional rights. Therefore, they feel emboldened to commit violence against them.” 

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Four horses with mounted police trot down the street with a hearse carriage in tow

A horse-drawn carriage carries the flag-draped coffin of fallen Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Joshua Eyer to First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., May 3, 2024. (The Image Direct for Fox News Digital)

Parker attributed the upward trend of officer deaths and assaults with guns to growing “legal and social scrutiny” that keeps officers from defending themselves, “even when fully justified.” 

“No one should be shocked to see the rise in assaults and deaths over the last several years of officers,” Parker said. “They do not defend themselves because they do not feel that they can. … Either you are shot or you have to defend yourself and shoot someone, [but] the legal woes many times bury these officers, and the trauma is real.” 

Gamaldi raised similar points, remarking that “politicians, media, grifters and activists who realized they could make money and garner influence by demonizing police officers [have] led to police officers being disrespected, delegitimized and treated like scum in this country for a better part of this decade.” 

Police hug each other

Police console each other at the memorial for fallen Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Joshua Eyer at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., May 3, 2024. (The Image Direct for Fox News Digital)

He also noted the “revolving door criminal justice system” in the U.S., saying 85% of offenders who kill police officers have a criminal record and 71% are convicted felons, according to Fraternal Order of Police data. 

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House Republicans need to pass the ‘Protect and Serve’ act, which would make it a federal crime to knowingly assault a police officer. We could take these cases out of these rogue DA’s hands and make sure criminals are held accountable when they attack police officers by sending them to federal prison,” Gamaldi said. 

“Police departments need to prioritize ambush training for police officers, as we had 115 ambush attacks last year that led to 136 police officers shot.”

“Finally,” Gamaldi told Fox News Digital, “We generally need to stop treating police officers like crap in this country.”



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