With a second major ambush of police officers in the course of just over a week, added atop a mostly peaceful protest movement regarding police use of force, the nation’s officers in blue are feeling besieged, the Christian Science Monitor reports. For black officers, it’s not just their personal safety that’s at stake, but also their sense of mission at a time when relations between police and black communities are under scrutiny amid a wave of publicized incidents in which African-American men have been killed by officers.
“It’s difficult for a police officer to do their job if they believe they’re going to be ambushed on calls for service,” says Tod Burke, a professor of criminal justice at Radford University in Virginia and a former Maryland police officer. Fourteen killings of officers this year have come during ambushes, six more than all of 2015. “As a police officer, you feel the loss of another officer or officers very viscerally,” says Seth Stoughton, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, who served as an officer in the Tallahassee, Fl., Police Department for five years. “So even though I can tell you that statistically we are fairly close to average, even now … that certainly isn’t making officers feel any better, and they’re afraid about what happens next.”