The wanton, Sept. 13, 2020, firing on two uniformed Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies while they sat in their marked police vehicle was an outrage. Other affronts emanated from that disgraceful attack: A witness to the assault is recorded cackling with delight after the gunfire. Outside the hospital where the deputies fought for their lives, a group of malefactors sought to block entrances, profanely beckoning for death.

Most media sources appeared mostly unfazed by yet another vicious outbreak of mayhem against public order. Despite national escalations in attacks on law enforcement, neither politicians, nor corporate leaders, nor athletes, nor entertainers, nor educators, appear to have been invited to reverse their anti-police rhetoric. There was no pressure to bring back now banned police-oriented toys or childrens’ television programs. In the backyard of the shooting, the record seems barren of any of L.A. Ram being asked if either deputies’ name will adorn Rams helmets any time soon.

Distinguishing himself, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, attributed the ambush to the pervasive anti-police invective increasingly embraced by U.S. politicians, media and agitators. Carlson is correct to make this point. But there is more.

Contrary to the routine media and political narratives, the criminal unrest now oppressing the U.S. is the culmination of factors that were well-established prior to 2020. Examining just a few elucidates how political and media obfuscation fomented the country’s current public safety crisis and how Georgia is no exception.

For instance, the standard explanation for 2020’s escalating violent crime and murder rates are the COVID-19 pandemic and recent political tensions. The truth is the nation was already seeing an alarming increase in violent crime. Multiple studies leading up to 2020 said so. Locally, for instance, reports revealed that DeKalb county in metro Atlanta broke its own record for homicides in 2019.

Plus, violence is the essential component of criminal street gangs. For years, federal studies have told us that America houses over one million criminally active gang members, who are responsible for the vast majority of U.S. crime. Academic research conveys that the actual number may triple that total. Reports of 70,000 gang members in Georgia, with 50,000 in metro Atlanta tell us much.

Gangs thrive on public displays of violence. Acts of defiance towards symbols of authority, like law enforcement officers, are fundamental to gangs. These criminal acts reinforce and enhance the reputation of the gang.

Do we consistently see reports that gangs are responsible for the murder of innocents — to include children — in our cities? Gang membership is rarely part of crime stories.

Interestingly, those who claim that gang membership and criminal history are not germane in most criminal investigations, are usually the first to publicly dissect the officer’s career and personal life. In reality, the past of both individuals may be pertinent. Responsible officials should explore the totality of any such event.

And for anyone who says gang and criminal background is “irrelevant,” they should check with the definition that matters—Rule of Evidence 401.

The usual account also never touches on the lack of forcefully comprehensive intervention against gangs, which clearly fuels rises in violence. There remains no federal anti-gang prosecution act. Federal and state gang-member-to arrest rates are consistently low. In Georgia, a recent report detailed that Augusta-Richmond County alone accounted for more anti-gang charges than the majority of Atlanta Metropolitan counties combined.

These are just a handful of the basically unreported, open invitations for gangs to go after cops and victimize innocent citizens. Is there any wonder, then, that violent crime and murders are increasing here and across the U.S.?

Police misconduct should not be tolerated. Remembering the names of those who are victimized by it is a fitting tribute and important gesture, serving multiple interests.

But there are many other names we should consider remembering, too, including, the 37 law enforcement officers feloniously killed as of 9/11/2020, according to the FBIs Uniform Crime Reporting System. Eight of these officers were the victims of ambush attacks, while 2 were killed in an unprovoked attack.

Miraculously, the two Los Angeles deputies will likely pull through and survive. Their names should be remembered, too.

Nationally, violent crime is rising, as are the numbers of innocent victims and attacks on law enforcement. Ignoring facts does not improve public safety, encourage productive dialogue, or inspire beneficial reforms. Unless and until the truth about crime becomes part of our discourse, untold numbers will continue to suffer needlessly.

Vic Reynolds is director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, after his appointment to that position by Gov. Brian Kemp in February 2019. Reynolds credits GBI Chief Legal Counsel Mike Carlson with assisting in creating this column.

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