An FBI investigation into felonious deaths of police officers in 2016 has found that a portion of law enforcement murders were motivated by hatred. The Bureau attributed this to a combination of activism against police shootings of unarmed racial minorities, political rhetoric and the national media narrative.
On May 3, an internal FBI report detailing the findings of their investigation into police killings was obtained by journalists. The investigation concluded that the majority of police feel threatened by the national mood following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, according to the Washington Examiner.
"Law enforcement officials believe that defiance and hostility displayed by assailants toward law enforcement appears to be the new norm," the report said.
In 2015, 41 law enforcement officials were killed by a felonious act, according to Vocativ.
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In 2016, that number grew to 64. The FBI investigation studied 50 of those deaths, and found that 14 cases involved suspects who actively wanted to kill police officers.
The report found that these suspects had been motivated by a hatred for law enforcement, citing high-profile police shootings of unarmed African-Americans.
"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," the report read.
The study noted that the suspects in two cases "said they were influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement."
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The FBI found that many police officers felt that political rhetoric had contributed to anti-law enforcement sentiment following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
"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."
The Bureau added that media coverage of police shootings of unarmed African-Americans had helped spark mistrust of law enforcement nationwide.
"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 wrongdoing," the report concluded.
There has been an ongoing national discussion over whether or not law enforcement institutionally discriminates against racial minorities or has been unfairly maligned.
On Jan. 11, a Pew Research Center poll found that 92 percent of police officers believed that protests against them were motivated by a hatred of law enforcement, while only 35 percent said that activists had a genuine grievance over police shootings of civilians, the Chicago Tribune reports.
While the FBI closely monitors the number of police officers killed in felonious acts, it has not kept records of civilians being fatally shot by law enforcement.
In October 2015, FBI director James Comey stated that the national argument over whether or not law enforcement was targeting African-Americans could not be resolved without a system of record-keeping.
"We can't have an informed discussion because we don't have data," Comey said during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, according to The New York Times.
The top FBI official added "I cannot tell you how many people were shot by police in the United States last month, last year, or anything about the demographic. And that's a very bad place to be."