It was hard in January not to feel the force of numerous nationwide news stories chronicling violence around America — particularly against the police.
Here’s what happened, according to Meg Laughlin of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
The end of January has been a deadly time for police officers around the country. The shootings and killings — which felled 12 officers and a U.S. marshal’s deputy over five days — began with two Miami police officers being shot and killed on Jan. 20 while trying to serve an arrest warrant on a fugitive wanted for murder. Four days later, an Indianapolis officer was shot in the head during a traffic stop and died in the hospital.
The same day, four officers were shot in Detroit, two deputies in Port Orchard, Wash., and another officer in Lincoln City, Ore. Then, Monday morning in St. Petersburg, two police officers and a U.S. marshal’s deputy were shot while attempting to serve an arrest warrant at a home. The two officers died.
Which raises the question: Even as overall violent crime is declining across the nation, is this sudden rash of police shootings the beginning of an era marked by an escalation of brazen, cold-blooded cop killers?
With a half a month’s distance from the violence, the tide of shootings has subsided — though any officer would tell you there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop.
I asked Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer what he made of the violent January, of which his deputies too were violently attacked:
“I’m hoping the increase in frequency of police involved shootings is not a long term trend,” he said. “It does worry me that it seems like people are attacking our institutions, attacking the symbols of our society.”
“I think civility needs to be stressed more.”
What could have caused the surge? Was it just random? Slate has an interesting piece out about “predictive policing.” Perhaps, as it points out, police shootings — or rather people lashing out violently against authority — could be like an earthquake, in which there are initial tremors, a big incident and aftershocks.