Following more than two years of increasingly hostile anti-police rhetoric and nationwide allegations of police brutality, 2016 has been the deadliest year for police officer deaths by gunfire than any year since 2011, and could easily wind up breaking even that record by the end of the month.
With still nearly a full month to go before the end of the calendar year, shooting deaths of on-duty police officers are already up 54 percent from last year’s total, when 39 officers died from non-accidental gunfire. A total of 60 officers have been killed by deliberate gunfire so far in 2016.
A total of 12 police officers were shot to death in November, which tied July for the deadliest month for police officers in 2016 regarding shooting deaths. That month, five police officers were shot during a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.
The number of officer deaths by gunfire is currently just eight shy of the 68 cops who were shot to death in 2011.
The increasing number of police officers being shot to death in the line of duty comes as police shootings are on the decline. According to the Washington Post’s database, 20 fewer civilians have been shot to death so far this year than at the same point in 2015. The Post reports that as of 10 a.m. on Dec. 5, a total of 884 individuals had been shot to death by police officers in the United States this year.
Of those, only 45 were confirmed to have been unarmed at the time they were shot.
By comparison, the Post reported a total of 991 people were shot to death in the United States in 2015. Of those, only 94 were confirmed unarmed at the time they were killed. Even as the Post announced it would be gathering continual data on individuals shot to death by police officers throughout the year, the publication admitted that by their estimation, police shooting deaths were justified at least 95 percent of the time, stating:
But only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were, like Snyder, armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats.
Still, even as increasing numbers of police officers are being shot to death -- with some shot dead in their patrol cars simply for being cops -- President Obama's Justice Department continues to pour fuel on the fire raging against law enforcement. Last week, the DOJ's Civil Rights head Vanita Gupta slammed U.S. police departments en masse for "broken systems and unconstitutional policing," accusing them of being "plagued by unlawful practices and tainted by bias."
The Officer Down Memorial Page, which chronicles the death of every police officer killed while on duty in the United States, reports that a total of 133 police officers have died so far this year, with gun deaths marking the highest single cause of death by far. Other causes included car accidents (21) and vehicular assaults (12), as well as rare accidental deaths such as heart attacks and drowning. Two officers have died from assault so far this year, and one other officer was stabbed to death.