2020's social unrest & riots have taken a toll on police

2020's social unrest & riots have taken a toll on police

2020's social unrest & riots have taken a toll on police

A veteran of three decades in law enforcement says thanks to laws that hamstring police officers, criminals no longer fear going toe to toe with them.

Assaults on police officers in the U.S. hit a ten-year high in 2023, when more than 79,000 officers suffered some form of attack. Four hundred sixty-six officers were assaulted with firearms last year, according to the FBI – more than double the number who were attacked in 2014. Forty-eight of those died in the line of duty.

Randy Sutton of The Wounded Blue is saddened by those stats, but not shocked. "It's not surprising to any police officer in America because the consequences for attacking law enforcement officers have been diminished," the 30-year veteran of law enforcement tells AFN.

Sutton contends respect for law enforcement officers has plummeted since the Black Lives Matter riots in 2020 – and the trend, he argues, has been helped along by laws and policies that hamstring police officers.

Sutton, Lt. Randy Sutton

"There have actually been states that have decriminalized resisting arrest," he notes.

The number-one reason assaults are up, according to Sutton, is because soft-on-crime district attorneys and attorneys general have left criminals with little to give them pause before they attack.

"When district attorneys refuse to prosecute those who assault law enforcement officers, that is giving carte blanche to people to commit acts of violence against the police," Sutton states bluntly.

The increased assaults have inundated Sutton's nonprofit, The Wounded Blue, which makes it easier for injured officers to seek and get the proper assistance they need.

"In the last five years, we have helped almost 14,000 American law enforcement officers who have faced injury in the line of duty. That's an astounding number," he tells AFN.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are set to introduce pro-law enforcement legislation this week. That news comes as there's some crack in the armor from the deafening "defund the police" chants during America's summer of social unrest in 2020.

Relationships improving – but there's work to be done

Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, told Washington Watch on Wednesday that House Republicans are preparing to bring pro-law enforcement legislation to the House floor. Johnson, a former deputy commission with the Baltimore Police Department, says relationships between police and larger "blue" cities are better though not fully healed.

"Some of the prosecutors … that we call collectively 'progressive prosecutors' or 'pro-criminal prosecutors' who were elected solely for the purpose of finding ways to help people who were actually engaged in criminal activity avoid accountability, certainly [to help them] avoid incarceration – those prosecutors have shifted their focus to law enforcement and regulating law enforcement and punishing law enforcement officers, in some cases just for doing their jobs," Johnson explained to host Tony Perkins.

Johnson, Jason (Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund) Johnson

But he senses some movement in the right direction.

"I think we've started to see a little bit of ebb in that," Johnson shared. "We've seen some of these prosecutors lose their bids at reelection. We've seen some removed by governors as Gov. DeSantis has removed a couple of those prosecutors in Florida. But it does persist, and there are some cities that still have these progressive prosecutors and new cities are electing them. [But] I think we have seen some improvement since 2020," he added.

More than 280 law enforcement officials died in the line of duty in 2023. Fifty-eight have died so far this year, according to The Family Research Council. Johnson says there's been improvement in crime statistics.

"Although crime is very high, some categories of violent crime have begun to stabilize like homicides and non-fatal shootings in many cities have become stabilized or have actually started to come down a little bit."

Johnson said the rift between police and communities after the death of George Floyd while in the hands of Minneapolis police and the riots that followed nationwide led to recruiting challenges for many police departments.