The ambush-style murder of Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth at a gas station in suburban Houston on Aug. 29 has added new urgency to warnings about a growing "war on cops" in America. After the arrest of the suspect, an African-American man named Shannon J. Miles, the local district attorney called for more public support for law enforcement.
"It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement," said Devon Anderson, the Harris County DA. "There are a few bad apples in every profession. That does not mean there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement."
The notion of growing "warfare" against police stems in part from a statistical jump in the number of law officers murdered — "feloniously killed," in the jargon of the FBI's numbers.
In 2014, the year of the Ferguson protests and increased media attention on police misconduct, 51 officers were killed nationwide. That was a jump from the 27 killed in 2013 and many took it as a sign of greater danger for police.
Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and an assistant law professor at the University of South Carolina, calls that interpretation "nonsense."
"It's misleading to compare one year to another year," he says.