Several large police departments made changes to the way their officers patrol their beats in response to shootings that left eight law-enforcement officials dead in the past two weeks, including three in Baton Rouge, La., yesterday, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Boston Police Department said it was directing patrol officers to work in pairs and not alone “in light of the tragedy in Baton Rouge and in the best interests of officer safety.” The New York Police Department notified its officers that they were to work “only in pairs, with no solo postings.” The New Orleans Police Department went further, directing that two squad vehicles, instead of one, must “respond to calls so that officers have support.”
The recent killings of officers come after high-profile killings by police that prompted a backlash against law-enforcement tactics. The number of police officers killed by firearms has jumped sharply this year compared with 2015, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Through yesterday, 31 law-enforcement officials were killed by firearms, compared with 18 during that period in 2015. These killings have put law-enforcement agencies on alert, and some officers are fearful that they could be targeted. “In nearly 30 years of law enforcement, I have never witnessed the types of brazen attacks we are seeing against officers,” said Indianapolis Police Chief Troy Riggs. David Thomas, a justice-studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and a forensic psychologist who counsels law enforcement, said the Baton Rouge shooting could affect police behavior nationally. “I can’t imagine going on any call now if you are an officer. Your anxiety is through the roof until the people at the scene” make it clear the officer can lower his or her guard, said Thomas, a former police officer.