Andrew Mills - Chief of Police - Santa Cruz

Assaults On Police: How To Reduce Them

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The police are under an enormous amount of pressure to reform for the better. There are many voices inside the profession who believe in change and are pushing for smart change. Fostering this cultural shift is a delicate task that is nuanced and must be done carefully.  The high levels of violence against the police are stymying this tectonic shift in policing.

One fact is unmistakable. The police are frequently victims of violent crime.  I know of very few police officers who work in an urban environment who have not been injured by violent assaults.  When joining each of us knew policing was a dangerous and risky business and accept that risk as a job hazard.

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However, out of the 600,000 police officers who police 82% of the nation’s population, 10% of those officers (10.1 per 100 sworn officers) are violently assaulted each year. 96% of those assaults were against uniformed personnel. FBI Data  Compare that to the general population rate at 386 incidents per 100,000 persons. FBI Data   

This level of violence against the police is unacceptable and not sustainable.  A civil society cannot sustain violent attacks on its guardians without diminishing the willingness of those guardians to protect.

To encourage further policing reform, violence against the police must stop. Police Chiefs all over the nation have asked our officers to take calculated risks to de-escalate volatile and violent encounters. Our police officers have done so, and as a result, thousands of lives have been saved and suffered fewer injuries. In my department, officers have taken personal risk to avoid using high levels of force.  Now, we as a community must protect our protectors, as they preserve lives through verbal and tactical de-escalation.

One way to help protect those in blue is to encourage our legislators to promulgate new legislation that protects police officers. If one attacks and injures a cop with a deadly weapon, the result of that assault must be life in prison. The cost of a violent assault on a cop must be enormous.  As a result, I believe officers will increase risk taking to de-escalate violence and mental health episodes thereby saving lives. All of us, even cops, need to know we will do everything possible to protect them.

If you so chose, you can email your legislator here. Ask them to protect the police.

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