Law enforcement officers are killed at a rate of one every five days so far in 2021, totaling 50 by September, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray revealed during a “Threats to the Homeland” hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.
“Our workforce has been battling the threat of terrorism and every other threat we face right through the teeth of a pandemic and rising danger to their own safety. I say that because over the past year, we have seen a sharp and deeply disturbing uptick in violence against the law enforcement community,” Wray said in his opening statement. “In just the first 8 months of this year, 52 law enforcement officers have been feloniously killed on the job. Just to put that in context: that’s an officer murdered in this country every five days. And already more than it was in all of 2020.”
Wray added that the count doesn’t include officers who’ve died in the line of duty due to “other inherent dangers of the job” or from COVID-19.
“We will be forever indebted for their bravery and sacrifice and are bound and determined to honor them all through the way we approach our work while we remain focused on our ultimate mission: protecting the American people and upholding the constitution,” Wray added.
According to Wray, the FBI has largely been focused on domestic terrorism, more than doubling the bureau’s caseload since early last year.
“Since the Spring of 2020, we’ve more than doubled our domestic terrorism caseload from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations,” Wray explained. “And we’ve surged personnel to match, more than doubling the number of people working that threat from a year before.”
Wray said the FBI is “countering lone domestic violent extremists, radicalized by personalized grievances, ranging from racial and ethnic bias to antigovernment and antiauthority sentiment, to conspiracy theories.”
“There is no doubt about it: today’s threat is different from what it was twenty years ago and it almost certainly will continue to change,” he said.
In June, the White House announced President Joe Biden’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, a first-of-its-kind, four-pillared approach to improve how domestic terrorism is defined, identified, and combated. The strategy’s main aim is to target those with racist or anti-government ideology, which the administration says is espoused by domestic terrorists.
The strategy says that experts and evidence have shown today’s domestic terrorists include those who espouse “racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred” as well as “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.” However, anti-law enforcement ideologies such as those espoused by Antifa and Black Lives Matter were not mentioned.