An internal FBI investigation into the spike of attacks on law enforcement has determined that revenge, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the media's assault on police shootings, and criticism from politicians, is the what motivates a "majority" of those targeting cops.
"Law enforcement officials believe that defiance and hostility displayed by assailants toward law enforcement appears to be the new norm," said the internal report stamped "For Official Use Only."
Portraits of the five murdered Dallas police officers sit in front of city hall in 2016. TONY GUTIERREZ/AP
Just Tuesday, the start of National Police Week, two Chicago police were wounded in "targeted" shootings, the latest in the escalation of attacks on the badge.
The four-page report provided to Secrets said that an anti-police wave following the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., is what drove most of those accused of killing law enforcement officers in 2016. In 53 shootings, 60 police were killed last year.
The report studied 50 of 64 killings of police in 2016 and found 14 simply wanted to kill police.
"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," said the report. In two horrific assassinations of police, the report said that "the assailants said they were influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement."
Another reason for killing police, according to the FBI, was a "desire to remain free."
The report said that in some 40 percent of the attacks on police, the assailants ran then turned and shot at oncoming police.
And in many of the shootings, drugs were involved.
The result has been a "chill wind" on law enforcement, and a somewhat understandable pull back by cops in dangerous situations, since even top officials, including former President Obama, have been critical.
"Nearly every police official interviewed agreed that for the first time, law enforcement not only felt that their national political leaders publicly stood against them, but also that the politicians' words and actions signified that disrespect to law enforcement was acceptable in the aftermath of the Brown shooting," said the FBI.
"Police officials across the country agreed that while the majority of Americans still support law enforcement, this change in social mores allows assailants to become more emboldened to question, resist, and fight law enforcement," it added.
Enter the media, and the FBI said that killers feel justified.
"Due to the coverage of the high-profile police incidents, it appears that immediately following the incidents, assailants were constantly exposed to a singular narrative by news organizations and social media of police misconduct and wrong-doing. In many cases, this singular narrative came from the subject's friends and family, and witnesses to the incident who often knew the subject, long before law enforcement provided their findings to the public. Without law enforcement and elected officials providing an alternative narrative, assailants developed a distrust of law enforcement, and felt emboldened and justified in using violence against police," said the agency report.
"Defiance appears to be the rule," it concluded.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com