Before his termination on Thursday, the unidentified officer, who was on his way to becoming a full-time member of the Massachusetts State Police (MSP), claimed he crashed his car because a white male fired several shots at him in Millis, Massachusetts. Residents of the town were on high alert after the incident, and schools were shut down for safety precautions. But a ballistics report conducted after the alleged shooting concluded the bullets discovered in the officer’s vehicle actually belonged to him. Investigators are also looking into whether or not the officer torched his vehicle as well.
The former officer now faces criminal charges. His motive for lying has not been determined.
The fabricated story comes in the midst of media hysteria over the “war on cops.” In response to a string of officer murders (eight have been killed in 10 days), pundits have argued that “incendiary, anti-police rhetoric” has inspired a wave of cop killings. Fox News has gone so far as to call Black Lives Matter organizers — whose mission is to put an end to violence against black bodies that is largely perpetrated by police — a murder movement and hate group. It has also zeroed in on anti-police acts, such as Arby’s employees’ refusal to serve an officer in Florida.
Police officers have also said they are too concerned about public backlash to fulfill their duties, resulting in the so-called “Ferguson Effect.” The theory, which gains momentum every time an officer is killed, says there is an uptick in violent crime because officers are too weary to do their jobs.
In reality, while officer deaths are tragic and should be cause for concern, the number of police fatalities pales in comparison to the number of people killed by police every year. More than 1,000 people were killed by officers in 2014, compared to 126 officers who were killed in the line of duty. Fifty of them were shot — up from a record-low number of firearm deaths the year before, but still below the decade average. In fact, the number of officers killed by firearms annually has experienced a downward trend since the 1970s, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
This year, 83 officers have died in the line of duty — 24 by gunfire. Motives for the killings in the last ten days have yet to be determined, and so far, no one has cited Black Lives Matter as the driving force.