Recent statistics released by the National Fraternal Order of Police showed an increase in law enforcement officers being shot, with January 2022 seeing a 67 percent increase compared to January 2021, with 30 officers being shot this year, of which 5 were killed.
This comes as 2021 saw 73 officers feloniously killed, the highest since 2011.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said he believes there are a number of reasons behind the high numbers.
“The attack on rule of law and peace officers attempting to accomplish their mission has caused certain segments of criminals to act more aggressive towards law enforcement,” Barnes said. “They’re being much more likely to be noncompliant … which will cause peace officers to escalate to meet the resistance, which oftentimes doesn’t end well.”
Some of these attacks on rule of law, Barnes said, are encouraged by narratives such as “defund the police,” which can send a message to certain segments of the public to stand up against the police rather than comply.
In California, Barnes cited several iterations of decriminalization that he said fueled the attack on the rule of law: public safety realignment in 2001, where certain state prisoners could be housed at county jails; Prop 47 in 2014, which reduced property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors; and Prop 57 in 2016, which reduced state prison populations by releasing people for nonviolent behavior.
“[With Prop 57], when you go back to the penal code definition of nonviolent crimes, it’s a very limited definition of violent crime. Things such as sexual assault of an unconscious woman is not by definition or statute classified as a violent crime, or assault and battery of a peace officer is not considered a violent crime,” he said.
“So all these people become eligible to be released, and it’s just this constant revisitation year by year of chipping away, eroding at accountability and balance of the criminal justice system.”
Asked if he thought the media played a role in negatively shaping public opinion about police officers, which in turn can lead to officers being shot at more, Barnes answered flatly: “Yes.”
“There’s been this painting of the law enforcement profession, policing in America as that it’s inherently bad. And that is not true. Nobody goes to work in the morning thinking I’m going to go shoot somebody and take a life. It’s a good day when everybody goes home. That’s the goal. We want to serve the public and keep people safe,” Barnes said.
“Peace officers … are people. They have families, they have kids, they have husbands and wives. They live within the communities in which they serve. They want to serve justice, and do it responsibly. And I don’t think that narrative is being portrayed by today’s media. And it’s an injustice to the policing profession, and it’s actually a causal factor in what’s driving some of these very violent encounters by people thinking that they can get away with it because of the way policing has been perceived.”