The 2011 year-to-date number of LAPD officer-involved shootings is higher than comparable periods for the last several years. This increase serves as a stark reminder of the inherent dangers of the profession.
The LAPD figures are part of a disturbing and tragic nationwide trend. Over the past year, numerous officers have been murdered across the country. As we have been warning for months, after a two-year decline in law enforcement fatalities, 2010 was one of the deadliest on record for police officers nationwide. A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. So far in 2011, 63 officers nationwide have lost their lives. The recent LAPD shootings all involved armed suspects. Officer Steven Jenkins, who was shot in the face and chest, and nearly murdered by a domestic violence suspect earlier this month, was our most recent and closest reminder that these men and women really do put their lives on the line every day.
We cannot, however, fail to note that there are always self-appointed “community leaders” ready with a quote and criticism whenever police officers use deadly force to protect the lives of others and their own. The latest example of this criticize-early, facts-be-dammed “activism” comes after the shooting of Brenda Williams, who was pointing a gun at a neighbor and refused to drop it when ordered to by three officers.
Anyone should recognize that threatening another person with a gun, not to mention refusing to drop it when commanded to by uniformed police officers, forces them to use deadly force to stop the threat. But apparently, one “community leader” managed to bluster his criticism of the shooting all the way into the paper, questioning the “use, level, and type of deadly force” against Ms. Williams because it happened when “she was in her home.” Yep, we aren’t kidding, that truly was the assessment of a so-called “community leader.” Does this mean there should be different rules for people who threaten to kill others in their own home?
Some things will never change. Police work will remain dangerous and there will always be a few noisemakers and opportunists who criticize police no matter how justified a shooting may have been. But we trust that the vast majority of Los Angeles residents will appreciate both the dangerousness of police work and the professionalism with which the LAPD carries it out.