If there isn't a war on cops taking place across the country, it sure feels like it to many who wear the badge. After last week's fatal shooting of Dallas officer Rogelio Santander and another officer gunned down in Maine, there have now been 25 officers fatally shot in the line of duty since the start of the year. At this same time last year, 14 officers had been gunned down. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke out after last week's shooting, saying, "I continue to be upset at the lack of respect of our police in this city, in our country."
Veteran officer Rich Emberlin, who spent 30 years in law enforcement mostly with the Dallas PD, believes there has been a decline in respect for police officers in general. "When I first hired on in 1987, when you would stop people, some might even take off their hat and go how can I help you officer...now, they just say f-the police, I don't have to talk to you, I don't even have to stop, I know my rights," he tells KTRH. "But police officers have rights too, and we do make mistakes...but we are allowed to have attorneys and trials when we make grave mistakes."
The high-profile stories of fatal shootings by police in recent years has led to a warped view of officers, according to Emberlin. And that view isn't helped by a rush to judgement in many of those cases. "When you have politicians and mayors and governors and presidents saying 'he needs to go to jail,' that sticks with people and it makes it okay to hurt us," says Emberlin.
With killings of police officers on the rise, many departments have found it more difficult to find and recruit new cops. Emberlin would like to see those who support police be more vocal. "There is a silent majority of people in this country that love us, and I think it's 99 percent of people," he says. "But there's a very vocal minority of people that hate us."