The Rev. Franklin Graham responded to new report indicating there was a 56 percent increase in shooting deaths of police officers over the previous year by issuing a call to the public to “pray for all of our law enforcement.”
“The number of police officers killed in the line of duty across our country rose sharply this year. This report says that through Dec. 28, 135 officers had lost their lives serving to protect us,” Graham wrote in a Facebook post on Friday morning. “Tragically, 21 were killed in ambush attacks.”
The evangelist, who heads both Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, then offered up a call to his followers to turn to God and ask for cops’ protection.
“Make a special effort to pray for all of our law enforcement — they have some of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in our communities,” Graham continued.
The AP story Graham was specifically responding to notes that, from Jan. 1 through Wednesday, 135 police officers died. While some of their deaths were the result of accidents, nearly half were killed by gunfire. In fact, 64 were shot and killed, with 21 cops murdered in ambush attacks, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
It’s a dynamic that has caused both concern and alarm, with Craig Floyd, president and chief executive of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, telling the AP that the U.S. hasn’t quite seen an increase this stark.
“We’ve never seen a year in my memory when we’ve had an increase of this magnitude in officer shooting deaths,” he said. “These officers were killed simply because of the uniform they wear and the job they do. This is unacceptable to the humane society that we are.”
Still, despite the increase, the 135 figure is below the 10-year average, which is 151 for years 2006-2015. The deadliest year ever recorded for cops was 1930, when 307 officers were killed, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The organization also noted that 1944 was the last year when the number dropped below 100.
But, again, it appears the shooting deaths are the most problematic figure in the report, and not deaths more broadly.
“Of the 64 shooting deaths of officers this year, 21 were the result of ambush-style attacks — the highest total in more than two decades,” the report reads. “Eight multiple-shooting death incidents claimed the lives of 20 officers in 2016, tied with 1971 for the highest total of any year since 1932. Those incidents included five officers killed in ambush attacks in Dallas (TX) and three in Baton Rouge (LA), spanning 10 days in July.”
Read the entire analysis here.
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