Washington Post blogger Christopher Ingraham debunked the right-wing myth of the “war on cops,” noting that 2015 “will go down in the record books as one of the safest for police officers in recorded history.”
Conservative media have hyped an alleged “war on cops” in response to protests of fatal police shootings and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which right-wing media have called a “hate group” that wants police officers to be murdered. Fox's Bill O'Reilly suggested a “war between the police and minorities in America” could erupt, and in September 2015 Fox hosts groundlessly blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for the death of an Illinois police officer, an accusation which was later proven false.
In a December 30 post for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ingraham wrote that the data on police officer fatalities “contrast sharply with a narrative we've been hearing about a 'war on cops' in the wake of demonstrations” protesting police shootings. Ingraham highlighted the impact of the “war on cops” rhetoric, noting that in September 2015, “58 percent of Americans said that there's a war on police in the United States today,” even though in 2015 “There were 42 fatal shootings of police officers, down 14 percent from 2014”:
This year will go down in the record books as one of the safest for police officers in recorded history, according to data released this week from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There were 42 fatal shootings of police officers in 2015, down 14 percent from 2014, according to the organization.
Overall, 124 officers were killed in the line of duty this year. More than one third of those deaths were due to traffic accidents, the largest single cause of officer fatalities. Thirty other officers died of a variety of other causes, including job-related illnesses.
The memorial fund's numbers square with figures put together earlier this week by Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, who found that “this year (2015) is on track to be the second-safest year for U.S. police officers in history (0.1112 gun-related police deaths per 1 million population), second only to a slightly safer year in 2013 (0.097 deaths per 1 million).”
But they contrast sharply with a narrative we've been hearing about a “war on cops” in the wake of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere in protest of fatal shootings by police. The narrative has been especially popular among Republican presidential contenders: In September, Chris Christie blamed the Obama administration for “police officers that are being hunted.” In October, Mike Huckabee claimed that a “war on cops” was responsible for a “surge in crime” across the country. In November, Ted Cruz held a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he called “The War on Police” and blamed the Obama administration for creating “a culture where the men and women of law enforcement feel under siege.”
Even though it's squarely at odds with the facts, this rhetoric has an effect: A Rasmussen poll in September found that 58 percent of Americans said that there's a war on police in the United States today.