The brutal murder of Harris County sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth, in Texas, gave way to claims in some sectors that there is a “war” against the police, but the figures show a different story. There are no more police deaths this year than before; however, the agents and the public’s frustration, as well as the political exploitation of tragedies, are creating false appearances.
Since the Ferguson incidents, there has been an erosion in the relationship between the police and the community, especially of color. The stories of police abuse gained national interest, along with numerous videos that showed the brutality of some agents and the impunity with which they covered their tracks. At the same time, the killing last December of two cops in New York, as is happening now with Goforth, fed the notion that officers are under siege.
This disconnect is used for political purposes, turning a tragedy into a campaign weapon.
Sen. Ted Cruz leads the group that says that “police is under assault,” and blames President Obama for endangering safety.
This narrative also includes unproven speculation that is repeated as truth. One says that Shannon Miles, the suspect killer who emptied his handgun into the head and the back of Goforth, was a sympathizer of the Black Lives Matter organization, the same group whose supporters chanted a few days ago hostile slogans against the police in Minnesota.
This ideological narrative ignores the most important fact in the Goforth case. Miles is mentally ill and was institutionalized for six months, so the question should be how could he get a hold of a firearm. It is not a coincidence that Texas, along with Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, the states with the most permissive gun laws, are also the ones that have the most cops killed. But no one wants to talk about that.
Police credibility is at its lowest level, even though trust in the institution remains firm, according to a Gallup poll. Most law enforcement officers are dedicated public servants. What is required now is to strengthen the relations with the communities instead of torpedoing them with selfish, politically motivated paranoia.