As I write this article the number of police officers killed in the line of duty in 2007 has increased almost 30%; 170 cops gone - end of watch. This coincides with a rise in violent crime, according to the FBI, after a period of 15 years in which we experienced a decline. Why the increase? What changes have occurred in our job in the way of training, deployment, equipment, and weapons that have caused these deaths to increase? I think that there are several reasons why we are dying in higher numbers, but they are factors that we can change if we have the courage and fortitude to do so.

Police as a first line of defense

Our police departments serve as the first line of defense against those that would disregard our laws and do harm to any of our citizens. There are, and there will always be, cretins among us that want what we have but are not willing to acquire those things in a lawful manner. These knuckle draggers feel no remorse for their crimes; they have no conscience. These types need to be permanently removed from society. The court system has coddled these criminals for as long as I can remember, refusing to make them accountable for their actions. Instead, they have assigned counselors, and other social service types, to explain away the reasons why these Neanderthals have raped, robbed, and murdered our families, friends, and neighbors. Some of the imbecilic reasons these do-gooders come up with are so absurd that you almost have to laugh at them or you would fall over in disbelief.

The community has handcuffed the police, rather than the bad guys, so that we fear repercussions from our leaders and legislators more than we fear going head to head with the law breakers. Policies that force the street cop to have to ask permission to use a Taser are a product of social engineers wanting "everyone to just get along." Not having shields available in each car is indefensible. Why do we keep equipment locked up in trunks of supervisors' cars or in equipment rooms at the station, instead of deploying them on the street? Why are we adopting policies that cause our first responders to hold back, rather than go in and take care of business? I can remember when the street cop responded to any call and handled it. He may have requested additional help or detectives, but he did it in the middle of the battle, not from a block or two away. At a time when criminals feel emboldened by a lack of punishment, and fear neither the courts nor us, our response is becoming increasingly encumbered by layers of bureaucracy and time-consuming policies.

Excess baggage

Our training is better than it has ever been. Our weapons, both lethal and less-lethal, are almost always appropriate for the situation at hand. Our men and women continue to be America’s finest - not backing down from any fight. But never before have they had to carry so much baggage! As I go around the country teaching use of force, there is a common theme that is evident when an officer explains why he either did not use deadly force, or he delayed using it - he thought about the legal repercussions. What would the newspaper do with the story? What would the community do to him if he shot someone? I even see this hesitation when using less-lethal weapons such as Taser and OC spray. As much as I explain how important it is to gain the upper hand; as much as I talk about action versus reaction, the prevailing attitude is that they will wait. It is mind-boggling that these otherwise fine officers will put themselves at risk for fear of what the people that they are ultimately protecting will think of them.

Supervisors not cops

I am not sure at which level of supervisory rank this anomaly occurs, but my sense is that it begins at the position of lieutenant. This does not apply to all, as I personally know a watch commander in Nevada that spends more time on the street being a cop than spending time in the station. But generally at that stage the management mindset begins to take precedence over being a cop. Things like manpower, timesheets, report writing, disciplinary hearings, etc., cause the supervisor to put being a cop on the back burner. This mindset becomes more evident as we go up the chain, and at each level the job of being a cop becomes inexorably conjoined with social work. Instead of backing a cop for subduing or shooting a thug, they abdicate their responsibility to their fellow cops, and try to assuage the phony and trumped up outrage that some innocuous, self-proclaimed community spokesman spouts to any media type that will listen.

There are exceptions. Several years ago in the metro Washington, D.C. area, Police Chief Charles Ramsey and Assistant Chief Terry Gainer, would prowl the streets of D.C. at night, putting thugs on the wall and responding to in-progress radio assignments. Talk about backing your fellow cops...

Warrior Cops

This may not sound politically correct, but we have to create and spread the mindset that our street cops are modern day warriors. As such, they will sometimes need to be tough, demanding, over-bearing and over-powering. They need to immediately dominate a situation and gain control. They have to be allowed to err on the side of a little too much force, rather than too little. The bad guys are used to a more laid back cop mindset now. They know that the cop fears the press and community more than they fear him. The creeps know that society will let them commit the same crimes over and over again, without having to pay much of a price (or none at all) for their behavior. In the process, if they hurt or kill a cop, it changes nothing. Cop killers are rarely put to death. Indeed, some become celebrities - writing books, and having movies made about them that glamorize their wicked ways. And what of the cop that was maimed or killed? After two or three days of obligatory coverage, the cops and their families fade into the background to fend for themselves, never to be heard from again.

Change starts with you

So how do we turn this thing around? We do it one cop at a time. We do it by being unafraid to say something that society has deemed "politically incorrect," but we know to be absolutely right. We speak up about ridiculous PC classes that we are forced to attend on how to talk to certain segments of society so as not to hurt their feelings. We do it by not being afraid to ask tough questions of people on the street, or for that matter, of our administration and community. The old axiom that states "There are no atheists in foxholes," is analogous to one that states, "There are no victims that are pro-criminal." Until someone has become a victim of a crime, or a member of their family has suffered at the hands of a street thug, they will continue to wrongly assume that the criminal has more rights than the average citizen. If you don't believe me, explain to me why it is necessary that we have programs such as "Victim's Rights" and "Victim Assistance." The reason is that we pay too much attention to ensuring that the criminal has every right and comfort afforded to him, while we harass, brow-beat, inconvenience, intimidate, and otherwise embarrass the victims. It is unconscionable what we put these poor folks through, while ensuring that the criminal that has hurt, humiliated, and stolen from them, has enough to eat, is warm, and has a proper defense to answer the charges brought against him.

We should all be outraged at this juxtaposition, but we have been conditioned to accept it as "the right thing to do." I propose we begin to fight back in whatever way that we can. We have been led like sheep to the slaughter, afraid to say anything unpopular. In the process, we have given away much of the power that we had as cops. We simply drive around, afraid to assert ourselves, indeed, sometimes even afraid to defend ourselves for fear of what the morning's headlines might say.

Why are more of us being killed? Because we allow it!

Stay safe brothers and sisters!

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John Wills an ILEETA member, spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). He left the CPD to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs. John served as the Principal Firearms Instructor, Training Coordinator, and sniper team leader in the Detroit Division for 10 years. Before retiring from the FBI, he spent 7 years teaching at the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA. He has taught Street Survival domestically and internationally. John is presently a field manager with Advanced Interactive Systems. He also owns his own business---LivSafe, teaching safety awareness classes, and he maintains a blog, Red State Papa. John serves as a judge for Law Enforcement Technology magazine's Innovations Awards, helping to evaluate new products. He can be reached at or (540) 226-9478.