More cops killed under Biden than previous years: 'We're going to continue to speak up'

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EXCLUSIVE: More police officers have been killed in the line of duty under President Biden’s leadership than in prior years since 1995, and a law enforcement nonprofit wants the president to start speaking up.

While officer line-of-duty deaths reached record highs beginning in 2020 due to COVID-19, killings of officers are also up, according to the FBI’s law enforcement officers killed in action (LEOKA) data.

“We believe it’s a combination … of the George Floyd protests — riots, if you will; a general feeling of a preference for less law enforcement; and less prosecution and less policing,” said Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) and a 20-year police veteran. 

“Law enforcement officers have essentially been marginalized and demoralized and cast aside and encouraged now to enforce the law. And so we’ve seen massive jumps in the homicide rate in cities across America.”

New York Police Department officers in masks stand during a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to honor 46 colleagues who have died due to COVID-19-related illness.

New York Police Department officers in masks stand during a service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to honor 46 colleagues who have died due to COVID-19-related illness.
( AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

He added that “it’s natural” rising homicide rates in major U.S. cities have “also resulted in many more officers being assaulted because … a lot of leaders in these cities and leaders in Congress and leaders in the White House have really voiced a lack of respect for law enforcement officers.”

In 2021, the FBI counted 73 officers intentionally killed in the line of duty. That’s a nearly 59% increase compared to the 46 intentionally killed in 2020.

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The last time more than 72 officers were killed was in 1995, when 74 officers were intentionally killed on the job, according to LEOKA data. The next highest number of officers intentionally killed on duty was 72 in 2011, according to LEOKA data analyzed in a report by the Heartland Institute.

That number was 55 in 2012, 27 in 2013, 51 in 2014, 41 in 2015, 66 in 2016, 46 in 2017, 56 in 2018 and 48 in 2019.

Police officers stand in formation during a standoff with demonstrators in front of the Public Safety Building Sept. 7, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. 

Police officers stand in formation during a standoff with demonstrators in front of the Public Safety Building Sept. 7, 2020, in Rochester, N.Y. 
(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The numbers come amid growing tensions between the public and law enforcement officers since the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide conversations about police violence, racial bias in policing and policies that aimed to mitigate police violence against civilians. With calls for justice, however, came some animosity toward police in general from activists and politicians. 

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“Police don’t expect you to be supportive if what they’ve done is wrong,” Johnson said. “That’s certainly not what we’re asking for. What we asked for is that the president and the administration not make a premature, judgmental and frankly wrong comments … next time a viral video comes out.”

Additionally, ambush attacks against officers were up in 2021. LEOKA data shows that 32 officers were killed in an ambush or unprovoked attack in 2021, exceeding previous records dating back to at least 1987, as the Heartland Institute noted in its report.

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Johnson believes the Biden administration’s “actions have shown that they are not supportive of the police,” noting that the president visited New York City just one day after thousands of officers and civilians paid their final respects to fallen New York Police Department (NYPD) Det. Wilbert Mora, who was laid to rest Wednesday following a funeral service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

A protester walks past burning trash during a protest against police brutality Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Washington, south of Seattle.

A protester walks past burning trash during a protest against police brutality Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Washington, south of Seattle.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Mora and his partner, Det. Jason Rivera, died after they were shot by a domestic violence suspect while responding to a police call in Harlem Jan. 21. The suspect also died. 

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“Until and unless we see some leadership — both in the White House and in individual cities, district attorneys that are willing to hold police accountable when they’re wrong but are willing to support them when they’re right — we’re going to continue to speak up not only with increasing levels of violent crime but increasing numbers of assaults and the killing of law enforcement officers,” Johnson said. 

During his trip to the NYPD Thursday, Biden said “the answer is not to defund the police” but instead, to provide the tools and funding for law enforcement officials to be “partners” and “protectors” in the community. He also thanked the NYPD force and their spouses.

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“Every time you pin that shield on, walk out the door, you’re worried about getting a phone call – too many have gotten the phone call lately,” Biden said. “Every day in this country, 316 people are shot, 106 killed, there have been six NYPD victims of gun violence so far just this year.”

New York Police officers line up along Fifth Avenue outside St. Patrick's Cathedral for Officer Wilbert Mora's funeral Feb. 2, 2022, in New York.

New York Police officers line up along Fifth Avenue outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Officer Wilbert Mora’s funeral Feb. 2, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

The president added that “the answer is not to abandon our streets” but “to come together, police and communities building trust and making us all safer.”

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The Biden administration on Thursday morning rolled out a strategy to stop the flow of guns, bolster law enforcement and increase funding for community policing, which Biden elaborated on during remarks at the NYPD HQ.

Senior administration officials said the strategy builds on steps the president announced in June 2021, which were intended to stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence; support local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime; invest in evidence-based community violence interventions, expanded summer programming, employment opportunities and other services and support for teenagers and young adults; and provide help for formerly incarcerated individuals to “successfully reenter their communities.”

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones, Michael Ruiz and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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