One year ago, the American law enforcement community suffered through what was arguably it’s most trying and emotionally difficult event since 9/11.
July 7, 2016, marked the day that a deranged man, seemingly motivated by nothing more than an intense hatred of law enforcement, assassinated five Dallas-area police officers.
The rawness of that tragedy was only deepened by the subsequent murder of three Baton Rouge police officers only 10 days later.
Then-candidate Donald Trump said the murders had “shaken the soul of our nation.”
He added, “A brutal attack on our police force is an attack on our country, and an attack on our families. We must stand in solidarity with law enforcement, which we must remember is the force between civilization and total chaos.”
Trump’s solemn words rang true then, and they still resonate today.
An unprovoked attack on any law enforcement officer is in fact an attack on all of society. A civilized society cannot flourish if we normalize violence against the very men and women tasked with protecting our communities.
Fortunately, the heated rhetoric that came to dominate the public discourse over the past few years has seemingly begun to give way to softer tones.
Thankfully so, as all of society’s stakeholders must work together to curb the violence and dysfunction that destabilizes too many communities.
Unfortunately, we are still confronted by reminders of the significant dangers facing the men and women of law enforcement.
On Wednesday morning, New York Police Department Officer Miosotis Familia was slain by a lone gunman as she sat in full uniform in a marked patrol vehicle, victimized simply because of her chosen profession.
Familia was a devoted mother of three children and had been described as a “warrior.”
Her killer—a man with an extensive violent criminal record—had allegedly ranted on social media about his hatred and anger toward law enforcement. His girlfriend, concerned by his erratic behavior, called police only hours before he would go on to kill Familia.
This senseless attack reflects a disturbing trend of increased hostility toward our nation’s officers. So far this year, 68 officers have died or been killed in the line of duty—a 17 percent increase from the same time last year.
Equally disturbing, 25 of those officers have been killed by gunfire—a 25 percent jump from this point last year.
Police work has always been, and will always remain, a profession rife with myriad dangers. But as we reflect on the events in Dallas one year ago, we should be reminded that in the struggle to maintain the viability and stability of our respective communities, we are all in this together.
In the immediate aftermath of the Dallas police shooting, then-Chief of Police David Brown stated:
Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.
The law enforcement community is certainly still hurting, but hopefully that pain can continue to give way to stronger and healthier relationships between our nation’s police officers and the communities they protect and serve.