Washington, DC - Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, released the following statement reflecting on the dangerous challenges law enforcement officers faced in 2021:
"This past year has been one of the most dangerous years for law enforcement in recent history due to the increase of violence directed towards law enforcement officers, the nationwide crime crisis fueled by rogue prosecutors, and the ongoing pandemic.
"For more than a century, the Fraternal Order of Police has been the voice for the men and women of law enforcement in the United States. At a time when America's law enforcement is under attack—physically, professionally, rhetorically—we owe it to our more than 364,000 members, the more than 800,000 men and women of law enforcement, and the families of these officers to ensure that the media and the general public are made aware of the real and looming dangers the American police officer is facing.
"We were thrust into 2021 when the entire world watched the horrific events unfold on January 6. As a violent mob attacked the very heart of our American democracy, it was the men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police, U.S. Park Police, and numerous Federal, State, and local partners who answered the call of duty. Their heroism and bravery were on full display that day while protecting the United States Capitol. We are immensely proud of these officers and, as Americans, we are extremely grateful for their service. History will not forget their gallantry and the sacrifices they made in defense of our Capitol—ultimately preserving our way of life.
"The recent erosion of respect for law enforcement coupled with public figures spewing anti-police rhetoric have fueled more aggression towards police officers than what has been seen in previous years—undoubtedly emboldening violent criminals to commit brazen acts of violence against law enforcement. This past year, the violence directed at our law enforcement officers surged. In 2021, 346 officers were shot in the line of duty, 63 of whom were killed by gunfire. There were 103 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers this year, which was an increase of 115% from 2020, and resulted in 130 officers being shot. Thirty of those officers were killed.
"It is our sincere hope, as we begin a new year, that Congress will pass the 'Protect and Serve Act' to address the national problem of ambushes and unprovoked attacks on our nation's law enforcement officers.
"The attacks on law enforcement during 2021 were a harsh reminder that our officers are not just in harm's way due to the dangerous nature of their profession, but that they are the targets of cowardly individuals whose sole motivation is to injure or kill a law enforcement officer. If these violent criminals are willing to commit brazen acts of violence against the men and women of law enforcement, we can't begin to fathom what heinous acts they are willing to commit against law-abiding citizens.
"As crime rates continue to rise, more citizens in this country are justifiably living in fear, constantly wondering if they too will become a victim. Law-abiding citizens saw the real-life consequences of what happens when elected officials embrace pro-criminal, revolving-door policies and make decisions that put the interests of violent offenders ahead of public safety. These decisions—failures to prosecute violent offenders for their crimes or, even worse, releasing repeat offenders arrested for crimes who show a propensity for escalation of violence—make our communities less safe. These rogue prosecutors are putting innocent lives at risk. When there are no consequences for breaking the law, more people will break the law and crime will increase.
"For two years now, law enforcement officers have been and will continue to be on the front lines in a nation ravaged by COVID-19, a virus that has claimed the lives of 860 of our brothers and sisters in uniform.
"Among many pieces of legislation that the National Fraternal Order of Police played a leading role in getting passed by Congress and signed by the President was the 'Protecting America's First Responders Act.' With COVID-19 being the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers, the National FOP worked tirelessly to get this legislation passed, which updated the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) disability determinations and definitions, making it more consistent with existing Federal law and greatly improving the ability of our injured and disabled officers to have their claims processed more fairly and more quickly. It also provides for an extension of the COVID-19 presumption for the PSOB program through the end of 2023 or the end of the public health emergency—whichever comes first.
"Despite all of this, the brave men and women of law enforcement will continue to hold the line, stand in between good and evil, and work tirelessly to protect the communities they serve."