A brazen, daylight slaying last week of Officer Michael Flisk underscores what Chicago police have been saying for months: They are increasingly confronting people willing to attack them even as overall violent crime continues to fall, the Associated Press reports. Five police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year – the most in at least 25 years. A sixth police officer was gunned down as he sat in his vehicle while off-duty just a few days before Flisk’s death. Reports of batteries on police officers have nearly tripled in just over a decade. “There is a lack of respect for the police, a lack of fear of the police that’s getting worse,” said Officer Nick Spencer, a 17-year veteran. “They see a cop, and they just don’t care anymore.”
Police, activists,and former gang members point to other explanations, from the drop in the number of police officers on the streets to changes in the structure of gangs that has led to increased violence among the city’s estimated 100,000 gang members. Officers tell stories about rocks and other debris pinging off their squad cars as they respond to calls or being confronted by crowds that no longer disperse just because an officer tells them to. The sound of gunfire that used to stop when they arrived at a scene now continues long afterward.