Following the shooting of police officers in Dallas this week, conservatives raced to Twitter to blame President Barack Obama, but the data doesn’t support their complaints.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) tweeted, “Obama’s words & [Black Lives Matter]’s deeds have gotten cops killed.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed the shooting had “roots” in the “anti-white/cop events illuminated by Obama.”
But according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune, blaming Obama or Black Live Matter activists, who began protesting shootings by police following the death of Michael Brown, isn’t supported by any of the data available. In fact, their claims are outright false.
The Officers Down Memorial Page paints a different picture than conservatives would have the public believe. The site tracks law enforcement officers murdered in the line of duty in real time and shows an average of 101 police officers deliberately killed each year under the Reagan administration. Under George H.W. Bush that number fell to 90, to 81 under Clinton and 72 deaths per year under George W. Bush.
As for the Obama administration, that number has continued to drop. The average number of police murdered during his presidency has fallen to an average 62 deaths each year through 2015. Looking at projections for 2016, that number stays the same.
There are so few officers being killed intentionally that just the Dallas shootings skew the data showing a 44 percent increase. Without the murders this week, the year-over-year rise would only have been 17 percent.
This isn’t about better medical care and quicker response time either. Under Obama’s administration, assaults on police officers have dropped as well. The FBI reports that in 1988, the final year of the Reagan administration, police had 15.9 assaults per every 100 law enforcement officers. However, at the end of the Clinton administration in 2000, that number dropped to 12.7 assaults for every 100 officers. Under the Bush administration, it fell again 11.3. The trend has continued under Obama’s administration. The most recent data from the FBI shows that in 2014 it decreased to 9.0.
It doesn’t save the slain officers Dallas lost this week, but it does show a more optimistic future for officers who fear for their safety.