Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, welcomed news that 2017 ended with the second lowest number of law enforcement officer fatalities in more than 50 years. Overall there was a 10% decrease of officers killed in the line of duty, most notably 45 who were shot and killed in 2017 compared to 66 the year before. While this is a welcomed reduction it does not tell the whole story.
“Last year saw the second fewest line of duty deaths in the last 50 years, but our officers are being killed or wounded by gunfire at a higher rate than before,” stated Canterbury. “In 2016, 253 officers were shot in the line of duty and 66 made the ultimate sacrifice. This past year we had 271 officers shot in the line of duty and 45 who made the ultimate sacrifice. This is unacceptable to the men and women of law enforcement.”
The threats law enforcement faces every day by people with hatred and animus toward our police officers was highlighted by the New Years Eve ambush that wounded 4 officers and killed another in Colorado. This is why the Fraternal Order of Police is calling on Congress to make it a Federal offense to deliberately target law enforcement officers with violence.
“Our members are increasingly under fire by individuals motivated by nothing more than a desire to kill or injure a cop. Enough is enough!” declared Canterbury. “Now Americans who choose to be law enforcement officers, who choose to serve their communities and put their lives on the line for fellow citizens, find themselves hunted and targeted just because of the uniform that they wear. This has to stop.”
In October 2015, the Department of Justice released their “Ambushes of Police” report that detailed the number of ambush attacks on law enforcement officers from 1990-2013. In 2013, there were between 200-300 ambush attacks reported on law enforcement officers. The Executive Summary of the report states, “…the proportion of fatal attacks on officers attributable to ambushes increasing. Concerns about targeted violence against police are on the rise, while officers must not only be guardians of the public but also be prepared to respond to violence targeting them [sic].”
V. FOP Press Release: FOP Press Release- FOP Applauds Cole Memo Revocation
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, applauded today’s announcement by Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III that the U.S. Department of Justice was rescinding the Cole Memo and restoring discretion to our nation’s U.S. Attorneys on investigations into violations of Federal drug laws involving marijuana.
The Cole Memo, issued in 2013 in response to several States removing criminal penalties for the use and possession of marijuana, allowed for the creation of a “pot industry” and created a veneer of legitimacy to violations of Federal law, which prohibits the use, possession and production of this dangerous drug.
“From 1996, when he was elected to the Senate, to today as our nation’s ‘top cop,’ Attorney General Sessions has been a key law enforcement ally and supporter of the rule of law,” said Canterbury. “Like our members, he is also a strong proponent of Federal enforcement of our nation’s narcotics laws. This experiment of giving cover to drug dealers has had fatal consequences. When marijuana was ‘legalized’ in Colorado, traffic-related deaths due to marijuana rose from 13% to 20%. This is costing people their lives.”
The Attorney General’s announcement is good news for public safety and public health. There will be no Federal agents chasing individual users—but it will give law enforcement the discretion it lost when the Cole Memo was issued.
“As our nation celebrated the New Year, many of us caught live coverage of drug use on CNN, a violation of Federal law and a dangerous contribution to normalizing drug abuse,” said Canterbury. “Our members don’t make law or policy—we enforce it. If our citizens want to change the existing law, they should do so. As law enforcement officers, we cannot pick and choose what laws will be enforced.”