Via The Wall St. Journal:
The high-profile shootings of civilians at the hands of police, and police at the hands of civilians, has led to some fierce national soul-searching. That has obscured a routine reality of life on the beat, where the threat of violence is often just behind a door.
Officer Brian Leatherwood thought the elderly woman was alone and needed medical help when he responded to a routine call for assistance one 2012 night in Knoxville, Tenn.
He heard yelling in the kitchen and went to investigate when a man rushed out and began beating him. A minute later, blood was pouring from the policeman’s head and his assailant, whom he had shot twice, was dying on the living-room floor.
“I went to work that Friday in a clean, fresh uniform and nothing wrong,” Officer Leatherwood said. He got home the next morning looking like “Frankenstein,” with “100 sutures in my forehead and the top of my head.”
Four years have passed since the shooting of the mentally ill man, which an investigation concluded was justifiable. The 47-year-old veteran officer is still prone to mood swings, intense headaches and short-term memory loss as a result of the encounter.
Much of the national debate has focused on videotaped police shootings of civilians, mostly minorities, prompting calls for more body cameras and changes in training and de-escalation techniques. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, one of the world’s largest organizations of police executives, recently offered an unprecedented apology for the profession’s role in “society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”
At the same time, public officials, including President Barack Obama, have voiced support for police, and some polls show Americans’ respect for officers rising. Much attention goes to police killed in the line of duty.
Less noticed are the thousands more officers assaulted each year. Those numbers increased 2.5% in 2015 to 50,212 from 48,988 in 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says.