CNN Spotlights 'Troubling Wave of Police Deaths' In Recent Weeks

CNN's Brian Todd zeroed in on the "horrifying recent pattern" of criminals murdering police officers during a report on Wednesday's Situation Room. Todd noted that "seven law enforcement officers [were] shot to death in a month – 24 officers shot and killed so far this year across America,"and reported that "the string of killings of officers in recent weeks...has really got the law enforcement community on edge." He also pointed out that "police advocates say a saturation of media coverage has contributed to the spike." [video below]

Fill-in anchor Brianna Keilar led into the correspondent's report by highlighting the most recent murder: "The killing of this Illinois officer – it's the latest in a troubling wave of police deaths across the country." Todd first touted how "police officers across the U.S. have their guard up even more than usual. The Fraternal Order of Police tells us ambush attacks aimed at the killing or injuring of officers have risen dramatically in the last few years."

The CNN journalist documented three of the most recent "cold-blooded murders that add to a horrifying recent pattern." He cited unnamed "police union officials and law enforcement experts [who] say several factors have formed a so-called perfect storm of hostility toward police: the string of police brutality cases, like Eric Garner's death....and the killing of Walter Scott, shot in the back by a South Carolina policeman, have fanned the anger against cops."

After noting how "police advocates say a saturation of media coverage has contributed to the spike," and that they also "believe civil rights groups bear some responsibility," Todd spotlighted a clip from a recent protest by "Black Lives Matter" activists, where they seemed to call for violence against police by using an inflammatory chant: "Pigs in a blanket; fry like bacon!" He also included a soundbite from "Black Lives Matter" member, who contended that "the recent killings of police are upsetting, but shouldn't be politicized."

Near the end of the segment, the correspondent pointed out that "police advocates say officers may be more hesitant to respond strongly to threats – like in one recent case in Alabama, where a detective says he didn't want to be the next cop scrutinized in the media." Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police summarized this incident: "[He] didn't act, by his own admission, when the perpetrator bolted his way out of the car, took the officer's weapon, and pistol-whipped him almost to death with it."

The full transcript of Brian Todd's report from Wednesday's Situation Room on CNN:

BRIANNA KEILAR: The killing of this Illinois officer – it's the latest in a troubling wave of police deaths across the country.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this. What did you find, Brian?

BRIAN TODD: Brianna, tonight, police officers across the U.S. have their guard up even more than usual. The Fraternal Order of Police tells us ambush attacks aimed at the killing or injuring of officers have risen dramatically in the last few years. But it's the string of killings of officers in recent weeks that's really got the law enforcement community on edge.

TODD (voice-over): Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz gunned down while on patrol in Illinois; Texas sheriff's deputy Darren Goforth dies in a hail of 15 bullets; Louisiana state trooper Steven Vincent shot in the head, then taunted, after stopping to help a stranded motorist – cold-blooded murders that add to a horrifying recent pattern. Seven law enforcement officers shot to death in a month – 24 officers shot and killed so far this year across America.

JIM PASCO, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: In every instance, it's been an act of cowardice.

TODD: Though the motivation behind the attacks may be varied, the high number has prompted the attorney general to issue a stern declaration.

LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The targeting of police officers is totally unacceptable, and we will continue to stand up for the safety of our officers wherever they serve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE OFFICER: Get him out of the car!

TODD: Police union officials and law enforcement experts say several factors have formed a so-called perfect storm of hostility toward police: the string of police brutality cases, like Eric Garner's death-

ERIC GARNER: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

TODD: And the killing of Walter Scott, shot in the back by a South Carolina policeman, have fanned the anger against cops.

TODD (off-camera): Is police behavior a factor here?

RON HOSKO, LAW ENFORCEMENT LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Police behavior is unquestionably a factor. We are in an era of cell phone video that is ubiquitous. And so, mistakes – heavy-handedness by the police – we can expect to be collected and retransmitted many, many times – so the police have to be smarter.

TODD: Police advocates say a saturation of media coverage has contributed to the spike, and they believe civil rights groups bear some responsibility. (clip of protesters chanting, "Pigs in a blanket; fry like bacon!") That chant from 'Black Lives Matter' protesters this week in Minnesota angered many in law enforcement.

HOSKO: We heard the chants from 'Black Likes Matter' organizers or protesters just this weekend, after the death of Deputy Goforth down in Texas, chanting in what sounds like a pro-police attack posture.

TODD: DeRay McKesson from 'Black Lives Matter' says the recent killings of police are upsetting, but shouldn't be politicized.

DERAY MCKESSON, ACTIVIST, BLACK LIVES MATTER (from CNN's "The Situation Room"): The only charged rhetoric that I've heard has been about accountability for the police – accountability for a profession that has refused any attempts to be accountable for the things that happen to them.

TODD: Now, police advocates say officers may be more hesitant to respond strongly to threats – like in one recent case in Alabama, where a detective says he didn't want to be the next cop scrutinized in the media.

PASCO: Didn't act, by his own admission, when the perpetrator bolted his way out of the car, took the officer's weapon, and pistol-whipped him almost to death with it.

TODD (live): Now, how else will the police change their behavior as a result of all this? Law enforcement experts say they expect police squads to change deployment tactics, and move around in teams of two or three officers when possible. Also, responses to crime scenes may be slower while officers wait for a second car to get there, Brianna. They may change their tactics on the streets here.

KEILAR: That seems to – like, it work in big cities. What about smaller towns, though, like Fox Lake [Illinois]?

TODD: That's right. In small towns, it probably can't work. They just don't have the manpower. Experts are telling us, in smaller towns, the police are going to have to continue to patrol alone. Police advocates say that makes them more vulnerable. Other people say that makes easier for them to get away with excessive force. It depends on how you look at this debate.

KEILAR: All right. Brian Todd, thanks for that report.

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