When a gunman who opened fire last week on a New York police officer, killing her before he was fatally shot by officers, the case reverberated across police departments, unnerving officers who worry such attacks could happen to them, the Washington Post reports. The timing of officer Miosotis Familia’s death in the Bronx was not lost on police officials, bringing to mind the rampage in Dallas one year ago Friday that killed five police officers. Policing has become safer in recent decades, with about half as many officers killed in the line of duty last year than in the mid-1970s, when that number peaked. Still, police officials and law enforcement experts say they remain acutely concerned about ambushes because they involve visible targets — officers who are uniformed and generally out in their communities — and are nearly impossible to anticipate.
“There’s nothing you can do about that,” said Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “There’s no preventative measures. We’ve got to be out in the public, and it’s very, very difficult. Officers can be as vigilant as possible, try to be aware of their surroundings, but when you have somebody filled with hate that’s bound to attack a police officer, that’s very hard to prevent.” After Familia’s shooting as she was sitting in a mobile command post, New York officials announced plans to invest in putting bullet-resistant panels and equipment in police command vehicles. “It reinforces the notion that policing is unlike any other profession in that there are people who are out to target police,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “When something like this happens, it just sends a chill across the policing world,” He said the New York officer was “literally targeted … not so much (for) who she is, but what she represents.”