Violence against police causing trouble for Texas law enforcement agencies

Friday night, two police officers in Fort Worth were shot while responding to a suicide call.

Police said one of the officers was shot multiple times and is recovering from surgery at a local hospital. The second officer received minor injuries and was released from the hospital.

This latest shooting in Fort Worth is a reminder to officers everywhere about the dangers they face when they put on a uniform.

A report released in July by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found a 78 percent spike in gun related officer deaths this year, many of those were ambush style attacks, and Texas leads the nation with the number of law enforcement deaths in 2016.

“Unfortunately, in today's world, the climate has changed so much that officers don't know what to expect,” said Jeremy Jones with the Texas Municipal Police Association.

Every day about 900,000 men and women in law enforcement put on a uniform and do their part to protect their communities.

“It’s a very difficult job, it's a very stressful job for these new officers coming into this career field right now,” said Noel Johnson who also works for the Texas Municipal Police Association.

Of particular concern is the way law enforcement officers are being attacked while doing their job. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that in 2016 ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers increased more than 300 percent from the same period in 2015.

“The newest dangers, I think, is the growing resentment towards police as a whole,” Jones said.

Some have attributed the growing resentment of officers to the Black Lives Matter movement. That's a group of individuals who say police officers that target the black community are not facing any consequences for doing so.

“I think people want to see everybody held accountable. Too often, in the police community, they're not held accountable for the things that they do. That creates animosity,” said Nelson Linder, President of the Austin NAACP.

Linder said even with some tension between the black community and police, Black Lives Matter doesn't support violence against officers.

“We don't want people targeting police officers. We don't accept any kind of violence that's targeted. It's not going to be a solution, whether it's in Dallas or even in Fort Worth, it's not going to work,” Linder said. 

But police say what is intensifying the violence against officers and the general public could be a medical issue.

“Unfortunately, police are dealing with a dynamic where there's a growing mental health crisis in Texas and the United States. And so, a lot of these calls that officers are going on, they're having to face or deal with individuals having severe or even minor mental health issues that are exasperated within the context of having to deal with a police officer,” said Johnson

Texas Municipal Police Association representatives said violence and backlash towards officers is creating another issue for law enforcement agencies, less people are applying.

“They see that we're under the microscope, that a decision that they can make, which they think they made the right decision at the time, could end up costing them their career” Johnson said.

While shooting deaths of officers did increase dramatically in 2016, the same cannot be said about other causes of death. Traffic related deaths decreased 17 percent since the same time last year and job related illness deaths dropped 31 percent.

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