Attorney General Jeff Sessions paid tribute to the nation’s law enforcement officers Thursday, recognizing National Police Week, which begins Sunday.
“One officer death is too many,” Sessions said in a statement. “While we are inexpressibly grateful to have had a decrease in the number of officers killed in the line-of-duty last year, the number is still far too high. At the Department of Justice, we honor the memories of the fallen and we pray for their families. We are also following President Trump’s Executive Orders to back the women and men in blue, to enhance law enforcement safety, and to reduce violent crime in America.”
“Those priorities will help keep every American safe, including those who risk their lives for us,” he added. “As always, we have their backs and they have our thanks.”
The FBI reported that 93 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2017, a 21 percent decrease from the 116 deaths in 2016. Of the 93 deaths, 46 were killed at the hands of criminals, compared to 66 in 2016. The names of all 93 officers will be dedicated on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., during a vigil Sunday night.
Police deaths in 2017 centered around urban areas. A single neighborhood in Chicago accounted for four police shootings in the past year, but none were fatal. An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was shot in the face on May 4. A Chicago police officer was shot in the leg while pursuing robbery suspects in the same area of Chicago’s South Side in July 2017, and two more were shot — one in the arm and hip and the other in the back — while surveilling from an unmarked van.
The area where the officers were shot is known colloquially as the Back of the Yards. It’s been a hotbed for gang activity for years, with 140 people shot by rifle-wielding gang members between the fall of 2016 and the end of 2017, causing 50 fatalities. The gang known as the Almighty Saints has controlled the area where the ATF agent was shot for 50 years, according to the Chicago Tribune.
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