Early in 2017

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Sociology ・APA ・4 Sources

According to a law enforcement community concerned with the sharp rates of growth, the current number of law enforcement officers who have to succumb to their injuries suffered during combats with criminals or ambush by the same criminals currently stands at 167 percent as of 2016, with 2016 being the deadliest year of attacks on the police fraternity (Hjelmgaard, 2016). According to a new report by a law policy watchdog, over 40 police officers have been killed in complex and covert assassination tactics by offenders and criminals seeking vengeance for police brutality and other charges leveled against the department in the last two years. Justin Martin and Daes Moines, both of Urbandale Police Department are some of the documented casualties who continue to emphasize the gruesome odds stacked against the law enforcement professionals in the presence of a growing danger they unwillingly and inevitably encounter in protecting the American people (Hjelmgaard, 2016). It is estimated that a total of 115 police officers have been slain in the line of duty to represent a 15% increase compared to the previous year. According to Hjelmgaard (2016), out of the 115 slain officers, 52 officers died of gunfire wounds, a stark remind of the damage that loan gunmen can do. Attack by ambush often takes place where suspect employs the element of surprise in their attacks often from a concealed position. The last known death of 2016 on Friday when Trooper Landon Weaver, a law enforcement officer with the Pennsylvania State Police was fatally shot and killed by an armed suspect during the investigation of the violation of protective order placed on Jason Robinson, a 32-year-old Pennsylvanian (Price, 2017). It becomes imperative to take cognizance of the disconcerting murders perpetrated against the law enforcement officers because of how they are conceived by criminals and how they are meted out.

Sociological Concepts that Analyze the Current Situation

Social Construction

Social construction is the process that entails the formulation of norms socially acceptable to a specific group of people and adopted by the inhabitant of that same group with specific consideration on how they interact with one another within the confines of the stipulated to create a harmonious society (Maguire, Nix & Campbell, 2016). Also, the created norms that are socially acceptable, become the social constructs that are naturally acceptable to the group of people defined by the norms. Social construction aims at revealing the ways that people or groups participate in the construction of social realities as perceived by the people. In most instances, social construction focuses on the ways social elements get created, institutionalized, mastered and transformed into lasting traditions by people. In the light of the prevailing current event, it could be safe to suggest that moral decadence and the permissive nature of the modern society led to the creation of a social crisis in the form of crime. Acts of aggression against police officers who are meant to uphold the social order suggests to diminishing social constructs based on high senses of morality and integrity

Social Stratification

Social stratification, on the other hand, implies the systematic classification of the society of the socioeconomic perspective with elaborate emphasis on economic endowment in terms of occupation, the level of income, and social status. Importantly, social stratification creates a relative social position from which people become categorized based on their social unity which defines them (Cornish & Clarke, 2014). Social stratification is characterized by the element of class with those highly placed belonging to the upper class, followed by the middle class and the lower class. Social stratification arises from economic inequalities that exist within the society and it is because of these inequalities that result into diminished opportunities for people hence they are motivated to get involved in crime and their eventual interaction with the law. Across the globe, it is apparent that societies with deprived economies have the highest rates of crime and assorted instances of police attacks arising from individuals’ hatred and disdain for the law.

Social Control

Social control is a conceptualized framework that focused on the internalization of societal norms and values through socialization where individuals are born with pre-established behavioral capacities to become empowered to develop their actual behavior confined to a specific range of values acceptable by the society (Maguire et al, 2016). In enforcing social control, there exist mechanisms both formal and informal, however, the resulting belief system has the ability to exert massive control on behavior than legally binding laws created by the federal governments. Though elusive to create and maintain, social control is believed to be the foundation of social order. The killing of police officers points to a weakened social control attributed to a myriad of reasons chief among them little opportunities for individuals to grow and realize their full potentials. Crime creates disorder on the social control imposed by the society and the institutions of law and orderliness. A weakened social control facilitates a lack of social responsibility to obey authority and the legal laws within the society.


Crime occurs when an individual’s act with complete disregard for the laws of the land in an effort to cause harm to authors and without necessarily fearing the consequences of disobeying authority. One of the most baffling social issue related to law enforcement in most of the states in the United Sates has been the rampant and wanton slaying of police officers by suspects or radical members of the society professing extremist views and ideologies. The police have borne the brunt of recklessness and savagery of numerous suspects retaliating or resisting arrest (Maguire et al., 2016). The most common strategy adopted by the civilians turned criminals is an ambush style method used to target law enforcement officers with the tendency gaining global notoriety and setting a negative precedent nationwide. Currently, national security statistics indicate that in the United States alone, a police officer in the line of duty gets shot every passing 61 hours because of crime.


In the sociological parlance, deviance describes any action or behavior that goes against the standard norms and legally binding laws of the land. Also, informal violation of standard societal norms constitutes deviance (Cornish & Clarke, 2014). As such, the created rules that members of a given society refuse and adamant disregard as conventionally binding creates the violation of social norms which differ from one culture to another. Deviance, therefore, is the total absence or lack of conformity to the stipulated norms. Mostly, criminals are defiant of the laws and their enforcers. Criminals depict a strong loathing and hatred for the law and its enforcers that they feel justified to retaliate against the law establishment by carrying out corresponding attacks on law enforcers. Therefore, criminals break the social norms in their deviant activities.

Sociological Theoretical Considerations

According to Cornish & Clarke (2014), it becomes more apparent from a sociological perspective that there exist instigators or stimuli that influence or necessitates aggression towards law enforcement officers by the criminals involved. The role of a structural condition, for instance, plays a critical role in generating criminal motives. Some of the structural conditions may include economic constraints and social disparities which in essence act like criminal motivations to engage in crime. Additionally, the highlighted structural conditions are in tandem and consistent with traditional macro-social theories that have been developed in the recent past to describe and explain crime.

The implicit assumption made by the macro-social theories is that violence against the law enforcement officers emanate from a common structural course thus the prevailing association with violence are also believed to be the primary contributors to violence against the police. Besides their influence on the offender motivation, most often, structural conditions have also been found to greatly impact opportunities for crime (Cornish & Clarke, 2014). On the other hand, income also plays a very vital role in determining motivators towards hatred for law enforcement officers due to related criminal activities. Income, for instance, positively correlates with the patterns experienced in guardianship whereby people with greater income affording better personal and property protection as opposed to very low-income earners. Income also positively correlates with target attractiveness whereby individuals who are more economically endowed tend to live in luxury with more valuable goods as opposed to low-income earners. Lastly, income also creates a geographical proximity to motivated offenders whereby high-income earners tend to afford life in areas with less criminal activities.

Other sociological factors like marriage increase home-centered activities and the ability to facilitate guardianship of properties thereby reducing individual exposures to crime. Recent studies also reveal that increase in population density enhances the proximity to motivated criminals and also the opportunities to carry out predatory crimes (Maguire et al., 2016). A community’s rate of unemployment was also found to contribute to high levels of criminal activities and the resulting hatred of the police officers who respond to criminal situations to arrests suspects. A community’s rate of unemployment, therefore, is simultaneously associated with diminished opportunities and increased motivations for criminal activities which inherently intensifies interactions with the law enforcement officers. Similarly, unemployment rates also represent a case of blocked opportunities that inevitably generates frustrations that eventually lead to hostilities and aggression towards the law enforcement officers.


As brutal as it may seem, it is worth noting that most of the police killings are not carried out due to the inexplicable desire to evade justice and the rule of law but because of the deeply entrenched animosity and hatred that criminals have for law enforcement agencies coupled with the loathing of the same society to which they owe their very existence. In the wave of such attacks, tactical training or a calls for increased vigilance do not help to prevent the attacks. Models under consideration for criminal motivation and opportunity structures often hold unwavering promise in the explanation of patterns of violence perpetrated against the police force given that there exist a ton of empirical support for the integrated models in most of the criminological literature (Maguire et al., 2016). As such, adverse structural conditions and the stipulated police activities in most instances facilitates opportunities for assault on the police by increasing the proximity of the police to exposure of crime related activities by the motivated criminals. Therefore, from a sociological perspective, criminal opportunity theory becomes the most important framework that explains assault on the police officers.


Cornish, D. B., & Clarke, R. V. (Eds.). (2014). The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. Transaction Publishers.

Hjelmgaard, K. (2016, November 3). Ambush-style killings of police up 167% this year. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/11/02/ambush- style-killings-police-up-300/93155124/

Maguire, E. R., Nix, J., & Campbell, B. A. (2016). A war on cops? The effects of Ferguson on the number of US police officers murdered in the line of duty. Justice Quarterly, 1-20.

Price, B. (2017, January 1). 2016 Closes With 140 Cops Being Killed in the Line of Duty.

Breitbert. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2017/01/01/2016-closes-140-cops-killed-line-duty/

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