Does it seem like there’s been a huge surge in ambushes on cops lately? That’s because there has been. Particularly since the increase in mainstream cop-hating from groups like Black Lives Matter (see Dear Black Lives Matter Terrorists: You Got What You Wanted. More Dead Cops). Not to say that BLM is directly responsible for those murders, but they certainly stirred the pot.
You know who else noticed? Trump. He’s come under fire for mentioning said increase in cop deaths… Because semantics. They’re fun to quibble over. In fact were it not for definition-quibbling, HuffPo wouldn’t have scored this nifty headliner: “Donald Trump Is Wrong. Police Shootings Are Not At A Record Level.” Seems straightforward enough. The problem? It’s entirely misleading.
Donald Trump wrongly said that “they’re shooting our police at record levels.” The record for police firearm deaths, and deaths of officers overall, in recent decades was set in the 1970s.
Here’s the Trump statement HuffPo is referring to.
…they’re shooting our police at record levels. Fifty percent up, and I said 50 percent, it’s actually much higher than that from last year.
The statistics that Donald Trump mentioned? Entirely correct. NLEOMF reported a 62% increase in firearm-fatalities from this time last year (as of August 6). And to their credit, HuffPo/FactCheck admits that those numbers are right. According to them, the offending phrase here is “record level.”
The highest number of firearm-related fatalities at the midpoint of the year occurred in 1973, when 84 law enforcement officers were killed with a gun. These numbers come from NLEOMF’s midyear report for 2016.
Here’s the thing – nobody is arguing that overall crime levels haven’t decreased since the 70’s, and as a result, attacks on cops have decreased. But the long-term numbers aren’t what we’re talking about here. If we compare the 70’s to 2000’s, it won’t show us the possible affect of BLM anti-cop rhetoric. We’d have to compare the data of the last few years to one another to see if there is an acute short-term increase in cop deaths. See, this is what HuffPo failed to consider in their research. Context.
If we take a gander at the numbers, what we see is huge drop in deaths around 2011-2012. But from 2012 onward? A steady, significant, massive increase.
Something worth noting here is that practically every time the death rate shoots up, it almost immediately drops back down. You can see that in the graph. But what we’re seeing in the past few years are consistently high figures – right around the time that BLM’s violent rhetoric has reared its ugly head. These are figures that HuffPo shrugged off merely because they got hung up on 40 year old statistics and an ambiguous phrase.
Context matters. Numbers matter. Facts matter.