Crime is down, particularly in Los Angeles, but if you wore a badge, you wouldn't be breathing easy right now. In a strange paradox, attacks on officers are up across the nation. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, noted on Monday that "66 officers died in the line of duty between January 1 and June 30, 2009, compared with 55 deaths during the first six months of 2008."
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It's a bad omen. The union took the weekend slayings of four officers in the Tacoma area to highlight the brazen disrespect that officers often confront. The Lakewood, Wash. cops, three men and a woman, were doing paperwork via laptop, preparing for their morning start to their shifts, when they were confronted by a suspect who opened fire, killing them all Sunday around 8 a.m.
"We are outraged that the suspect in these killings is a parolee who nine years ago had a 95-year sentence commuted by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and was subsequently released by the Arkansas Parole Board," states the LAPPL. "This is the second time in less than a year that four police officers have been murdered by a convicted felon freed on parole."
The union also used the occasion to highlight the coming wave of convicts that will be freed under federal order in California, one Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is fighting in court. The LAPPL argues that if the plan is allowed to go forward and 40,000 inmates are released from state prison (the order was given in order to relieve overcrowding) there could be more victims like Lily Burk, the teenager allegedly killed in July by a parolee who could have been in prison under a third strike conviction at the time of the slaying.
"With California poised to embark on a mass release of convicted felons from state prison, we implore our state political leaders to seek alternative ways of cutting the state budget. Surely, the murders of four Lakewood police officers, four Oakland police officers and other murders by parolees - such as the recent tragedy of Lily Burk - should cause the idea of a mass release of parolees in California to be abandoned."