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Law Enforcement Officers and the “Freedom to be Safe” in Biden’s America

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Law Enforcement Officers and the “Freedom to be Safe” in Biden’s America

A proclamation issued by President Joe Biden on May 10 to mark “Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Officer Week” included a recital of measures to support police officers and “keep law enforcement on the beat and communities safe from violence.” These included Biden’s “historic” actions to further gun control measures and his continued calls to “ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe storage of guns, fully fund [the] ATF, and pass universal background checks and a national red flag law.” “Last year,” the proclamation asserts, “the United States had one of the lowest rates of violent crime in more than 50 years,” the implication being that these efforts to crack down on lawful gun ownership contributed to drastically lower crime.  

Biden had earlier cited this alleged record-setting drop in violent crime in his State of the Union address, claiming his administration had safeguarded Americans’ “freedom to be safe.” There are, however, very good reasons to believe that violent crime has actually increased significantly during the Biden Administration and, consistent with this trend (but unmentioned in the Presidential proclamation), violent crimes committed against active–duty law enforcement officers have now reached historical highs.

A preliminary report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Officers Killed and Assaulted in the Line of Duty, 2023 Special Report, contains “counts of law enforcement officers killed and assaulted in 2023, as well as an in-depth analysis of law enforcement officers who were killed or assaulted from 2014 through 2023.” (The finalized annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted publication for 2023 will be released later this year.) 

According to the report summary, “from 2021 to 2023, more officers were feloniously killed (194) than in any other consecutive three-year period in the past 20 years (73 officers in 2021, 61 officers in 2022, and 60 officers in 2023).” In addition, “a study of the data shows the rate of officers assaulted has increased each of the past three years. Agencies reported 79,091 officers were assaulted in 2023, marking the highest officer assault rate in the past 10 years.”

Despite Biden’s claims of having “taken historic action to end the scourge of gun violence” and having implemented “more executive actions to stop the flow of illegal guns than any other administration in history,” the “number of officers assaulted and injured by firearms has climbed over the years, reaching a 10-year high in 2023 with approximately 466 officers assaulted and injured by firearms.”

So far, the limited information available from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) dataset for 2024 indicates that the trends continue into this year. The 24 felonious killings of officers as of the end of April has already exceed, by over 30%, the 18 killings recorded over the same period in both 2023 and 2022.    

Joe Gamaldi, vice-president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, commented on the preliminary report and the increased risks to officers. He points to the culture of delegitimizing the police, and “rogue” prosecutors and the “revolving door criminal justice system,” noting that “85% of offenders who kill police officers have a criminal record and 71% are convicted felons, according to Fraternal Order of Police data.”

On May 3, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a field hearing, “Victims of Violent Crime in Philadelphia,” that focused on examining one specific prosecutor – “how Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-criminal policies embolden criminals at the expense of victims and Philadelphia residents.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairing the hearing, opened with remarks on prosecutions under Krasner’s tenure and how his office has “consistently declined to prosecute crimes in the city.”As outlined by Chairman Jordan, in 2016, the withdrawal/dismissal of charges accounted for 48% of all violent crime outcomes; by 2020, this had increased to 68%, and then to 70% in 2021. These included abandoned charges for offenses under the state’s Uniform Firearms Act, allowing more offenders, arrested for unlawful possession of firearms, “to return to the community without significant repercussions.”

The Democrats, the Chairman noted, will “once again try to blame the guns instead of the people who use them to commit the crime. As we can see here in Philadelphia, when you don’t enforce gun laws already on the books, new ones will have zero impact on the problem.” In Philadelphia, “since January 2020, 500 people have been killed and more than 2,240 have been shot, which was a 40% increase more than the police have… ever recorded.” (See video at 11:50, 13:25; 13:47 and 14:30.)  As in other Democrat-run major cities, the combination of soft-on-crime prosecutors and an elected leadership defunding the police has been “a recipe for disaster.”

The panel also heard from former police officers, family members of officers murdered in the line of duty, a violence prevention scholar, and others. Terri O’Connor testified how her husband, while serving a warrant, had been fatally shot by a man with a lengthy criminal history, including parole violations and firearm and drug offenses that had been overlooked or dropped by the DA’s office. “We have a district attorney who says crime is down. Well obviously, if you don’t prosecute criminals, of course, it appears that way.” 

The parents of another slain officer, Sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald, both of whom are former Philadelphia police officers themselves, described how their son’s killer shot him multiple times, and took his service weapon and went through his pockets, before carjacking another victim. The “criminals in Philadelphia…know that Krasner gives them a free pass,” and “opens a revolving door for criminals in this city and in and around this city, to come in and prey on citizens like the shooter did the night that he attacked our son.” Krasner “is part of the problem. He opens that door… he creates …opportunities to attack Philadelphians” (starting at the 34:00 minute mark).  

Larry Krasner did not attend the hearing and claimed he was not invited, although he provided remarks afterwards that insulted both the hearing and the witnesses and trivialized their concerns. “I was not able to watch this hearing. I was actually doing my job, which is to fight crime, but it appears my job is also to fight stupid,” he said. “What you are seeing there is political theater.”

If so, it’s equally a tragedy and a farce, in which the safety of ordinary residents and law enforcement officers alike is sacrificed at the altar of progressive politics and extremist social justice beliefs. Fortunately, if gun sales statistics over the last three years are anything to go by, Americans aren’t being taken in by the leftist crime-control agenda of more gun control and less accountability for criminals, which really means more violent crime for all.    

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.