The cold-blooded shooting of a Philadelphia police officer yesterday was the city’s third shooting of a cop in four days. The latest victim died today. The Philadelphia Inquirer says it is part of a national trend in which criminals are demonstrating an increasing fearlessness of taking aim at law enforcement officers. The assaults on police officers, coupled with Tuesday night’s brazen shooting of three civilians and a cop in a crowded district, seem to be a wake-up call that violence is not confined to the less-than-law-abiding in the city’s impoverished quarters. Fatal shootings of police officers are up 39 percent nationwide this year, to 61. “There are more brazen criminals operating on the streets of our nation, criminals that are more cold-blooded in their nature, with less respect for human life and certainly for police authority,” said Craig Floyd the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday night’s shootings occurred during a nationally televised debate of Democratic presidential contenders at Drexel University, where the audience emerged to see an area lit up by police helicopters and frogmen searching the Schuylkill River for a suspect who shot three civilians and an officer. “It’s a disgrace, and it’s a damn embarrassment,” said Michael Nutter, who is nearly certain to win Tuesday’s mayoral election. The recent increase in attacks on officers does not appear to be specifically directed at police; they just happened to get in the way. “That speaks to the level of gun violence in the city,” said Lawrence Sherman of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.