The year 2021 saw a 59 percent jump in the killings of cops, and now stands at the highest number since 1995.
The number of murdered police officers in the US increased by 59 percent in 2021, with 73 officers killed in the line of duty, said FBI Director Christopher Wray in an interview aired on CBS' “60 Minutes” show.
“Violence against law enforcement in this country [the US] is one of the biggest phenomena,” the FBI director said. He believes it doesn't get enough attention.
But police brutality has increased at a faster pace, with 1,020 people being shot dead by US police in the past year.
Wray underlined that in the last year “officers were being killed at a rate of almost one every five days.”
The number of intentionally killed police hit the highest level since 1995, with 74 officers being killed on the job.
"Wearing the badge shouldn't make you a target," the FBI chief said, suggesting they were killed for being police.
Wray mentioned two agents who were killed while executing a search warrant in a child pornography case.
American officers killed in the line of duty last year were murdered by being ambushed or shot while out on patrol.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), in 2021, 103 "ambush-style attacks" on police officers occurred, and 130 officers were shot and 30 killed.
When it comes to reasons for increasing crime rates in the US, Wray counted lax bail laws, more juveniles committing crimes, and interstate gun trafficking as the main reasons for the rise.
“We're seeing an alarming frequency of some of the worst of the worst getting back out on the streets,” he added.
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter offences rose 29.4 percent in 2020, marking the largest annual increase since national record-keeping began in the 1960s.
Overall violent crime was up 5.6 percent to nearly 1.3 million incidents, although property crime fell 7.8 percent to nearly 6.5 million incidents, marking the 18th consecutive year that property crimes have decreased, the FBI said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program collects data reported by law enforcement agencies across the country.
A greater percentage of homicides were the result of gun violence, accounting for 76 percent in 2020 versus 73 percent in 2019. Houston saw a 55 percent increase in gun homicides, reaching 343 in 2020 compared to 221 in 2019, the Washington Post reported.
Last year, the FBI arrested around 15,000 violent gang members around the US.
The FBI director was asked how his bureau could contribute to the reduction of police brutality.
“Well, we take very seriously our responsibility to both protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” Wray said.
“And that includes where it happens, going after police misconduct if it violates federal criminal law,” he continued.