Even before the attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this month, terrorists — including those who advocate political violence against the government — were increasingly targeting U.S. cops.
Seven people were killed — not including the attackers — in eight terrorist attacks targeting police officers in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015, according to the Global Terrorism Database.1 Before then, no one had been killed in the U.S. by terrorists targeting police since 1983, according to the analysts at the database, which is a University of Maryland-based project.2
Much remains unknown about the Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings, but early reports suggest both could qualify as terrorism: Police investigators say the suspected shooters in both incidents were seeking to kill police officers, and social media accounts that were linked in media reports to the Baton Rouge suspect endorsed violence against the government.3 The Dallas shooter killed five police officers, and the Baton Rouge shooter killed three officers. Two other attacks earlier this year that each killed one officer could also qualify as terrorism.
This year already looks like it will be the deadliest for U.S. police officers targeted by terrorists since 1973, when 14 people died in attacks by terrorists targeting police. The deadliest day for police in U.S. history was Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died in terrorist attacks that didn’t specifically target police.
The early 1970s were a dangerous time for police officers in the U.S. The GTD counts 73 attacks on officers in 1970, killing 15 people.4 It was the first year in the database, and the deadliest for U.S. cops from terrorism. …