Police Attacked in 5 States: Are Officers Being Targeted?

At least 10 law enforcement officers were shot or killed – most around major U.S. cities – in about a week, in what criminal justice reform advocates and a police union describe as a by-product of a national violent crime crisis.

Two officers died after a shooting in New York City on Jan. 21, two were shot near St. Louis on Wednesday, three were injured in Houston on Thursday and two law enforcement officers were shot in Milwaukee, each on different days. And on Friday, a Kentucky State Police trooper was wounded by gunfire.

Police union leaders quickly linked the violence with anti-police sentiment, one going so far as to say officers are being "hunted in the streets." The unions have long suggested an erosion of respect for police in their communities could endanger officers, especially after protests for racial justice in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd often featured calls to defund major police departments.

But criminal justice experts told USA TODAY there's no evidence police officers are being targeted en masse. Rather, a documented rise in gun violence is making policing an inherently more dangerous job, they say.

Dr. Howard Henderson CJR's Director says, "The rise in police being shot by community members is coinciding with the overall rise in violent crime. Police happen to be some of the victims" in an ongoing “crime wave."

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