Post Submitted by Elliot Pierce
This post also appears on NorthwestGeorgiaNews.com and in the Walker County Messenger/Catoosa News upcoming print edition.
Let me introduce you to Ranger. At three months of age, Ranger was an adorable purebred German shepherd puppy. In the tiny Kansas town of Parsons, his owner was a police officer. Last fall, the officer let Ranger play in a fenced backyard for a few hours in the morning. Later on that day, after waking up from a nap, the officer entered the backyard and found a horrific scene.
Ranger was beheaded. Police believe the attack was targeted since a K-9 unit officer had previously reported suspicious activity at his own residence.
Executing an animal specifically because its owner is a police officer represents the latest in a decade-long trend of increasing attacks and crimes committed against law enforcement and first responders.
- In summer 2020, Molotov cocktail attacks were directed at three Gwinnett police officers’ home and their squad cars.
- Last month, Cedar Rapids, Iowa police officers’ homes were shot at and their cars were sprayed with bullets while they were off duty.
- Officers in Carroll County, GA recently faced down a suspect welding an AK-47 at them
- Every single day, there are more than 50 assaults on law enforcement.
As one might expect, the number of officers killed has also increased dramatically.
According to FBI and DOJ data from 2021, Georgia had the third highest number of officers feloniously killed. This isn’t a new development. Between 2012 and 2021, Georgia had the third highest number of felon deaths. Recently, things have taken an even darker turn. In 2021, more than 40% of felonious death incidents were ambushes or unprovoked attacks. Such tragedies are heinous and appalling.
In the fall of last year, an ambush attack on a Georgia police officer made national headlines. Having just completed his training, an officer left his wife and six-month-old child to work his first shift in law enforcement. The officer was fatally shot that same day in front of the police station.
It is not possible to put the current situation faced by police officers in both Georgia and the United States in context with this small sample. I cannot think of a more appropriate phrase than “war on police.” In 2020 the Georgia General Assembly took action and passed the Police Protection Act into law. Governor Kemp signed it into law that same year
As part of the new law, “bias-motivated intimidation” against police and first responders is now criminalized, including additional penalties for those convicted of injuring or attempting to injure law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. An enhanced punishment may be imposed when a jury determines a defendant’s actions were motivated by general hatred for police or premeditated.
Democrats in the General Assembly fiercely opposed the bill. They had an ally in the house from north Georgia. Then Representative Colton Moore stood with the Democrats and voted against the bill.
While researching for this article, I read several blogs written by officers themselves. A lot of blog posts on police appreciation focus on how the public honors police after assaults or officers’ deaths. A common view among the officers is that they need help from the public before something happens requiring those honors. Officers do need help from the public though. No, they do not need a bunch of millennials that were Xbox Call of Duty gamers suiting up and setting up a perimeter around their subdivision. That’s not the kind of help they need.
They need citizens to ask politicians to consider officer and department views when enacting legislation at the state and local levels. Likewise, they are in need of legislators who will stand up for them and pass laws such as the Police Protection Act. They need more funding for better pay and benefits so they can retain and attract high-quality talent. They need funding for their retirements and pensions. They need modern equipment that works. They need funding to try new things like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training for officers, something that some officers in North Georgia are pioneering with remarkable results.
It is almost impossible to imagine what it must be like doing the job they do each and every day. It is even harder to imagine what it must be like when things go wrong. If legislation like the police protection act is what they need we need legislators to get it done and stand with law enforcement. Unfortunately, Moore wasn’t that legislator.
by Elliot Pierce