The One Thing Trump Keeps Repeating About Police Deaths

July 28th 2016

Almie Rose

Donald Trump, who is now calling himself "the law and order candidate," has a very misleading argument about law and order.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted an alarming statistic.

Seventy-eight percent is an alarming number. Is it accurate?

Trump's claim is factual. According to a National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) report, police officer shooting deaths are up 78 percent in 2016 compared to this time last year.

But it's important to examine the context. The number is so high because of recent incidents like the shootings that took place in Dallas and in New Orleans earlier this month, in which three police officers were shot and killed. Of the 32 police officers killed in 2016, 14 of them were killed in ambush-style attack, according to UPI.

The whole truth paints a far more encouraging picture. 

While police shooting deaths might have increased over the last 12 months, the overall number of annual police deaths has decreased consistently under President Barack Obama, as Politico correspondent Ryan Heath attested in a fact check he tweeted to Trump. 

The above chart is from an article in The Washington Post, which states:

"Under Obama, the average number of police intentionally killed each year has fallen to its lowest level yet — an average of 62 deaths annually through 2015."

The "deadliest decade" for police officers? The 1970s.

NLEOMF police officer fatalities graph

NLEOMF released the above graph in its 2016-Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report, and it shows the steady decrease of police officer deaths over the last three decades. 

Trump's strategy is clear. He's using the recent rash of police officer deaths to create a campaign talking point, while obscuring the overall downward trend of police officer deaths.