FBI report finds in 2016, many cop killers were inspired to target police officers

By Joe Vargas

Last month, the FBI released a report, The Assailant Study-Mindsets and Behaviors. The report was an attempt to look at the motivation of suspects who killed police officers in 2016. Such incidents include the high-profile attacks in Dallas (five officers killed) and Baton Rouge (three officers killed).

Fifty assailants were considered, and the results provide some insights into their motivations, background and behavior.

Here are some of the key findings of the report:

— 28 percent of the assailants “expressed a desire to kill police officers prior to carrying out their attacks.” The study went on to say, “The assailants inspired by social and/or political reasons believed that attacking police officers was their way to ‘get justice’ for those who had been, in their view, unjustly killed by law-enforcement.”

— Most assailants attacked officers for one of two reasons: 1) They expressed a desire to kill police officers or 2) they didn’t want to go back to jail.

Some of the additional findings in the report:

100 percent of the assailants were male.

86 percent had prior criminal histories.

60 percent had a history of drug use.

40 percent of the assailants were fleeing when they turned and shot at officers.

32 percent were known to have been under the influence of drugs at the time.

32 percent were on probation or parole.

26 percent had active warrants for their arrest at the time.

24 percent had gang affiliations.

18 percent had diagnosed mental health issues before they attacked and killed officers.

The study is a good start, but it falls short by not looking at all the critical data.

Important questions like, “How many officers were shot but didn’t die last year?” or “How many police officers were shot at but were unharmed?”

Did the nationwide trend toward drug decriminalization contribute to the bad decision-making by desperate cop killers?

In many cases, it was only through sheer luck, training or vigilance police officers didn’t die. But many did get injured. In many cases the results have been life changing.

In Dallas, five officers were killed but nine others were injured. In Baton Rouge, three officers were killed but three others also were shot.

According to a LESMA publication278 officers were shot and injured in 2016. We have no idea what the motivation was of those shooters.

Suffice it to say there were a lot of police officers killed, shot and injured last year for no other reason than they wore a uniform.

Let’s all hope 2017 is a better year.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com