Crime may be down, but the job of law enforcement appears to be getting more hazardous. It’s “a disturbing trend,” according to Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer. He’s reacting to numbers from the state Office of Justice Assistance which show the number of assaults on police officers increased 180 percent from 2005 to 2009. “Four years ago we had 490 officers assaulted in the line of duty. In 2009 we had almost 1400.” Palmer said while there may be some variation from department to department, the assaults typically involve some sort of battery. The bulk of the increase occurred in urban areas, particularly in Milwaukee and Madison, but has been seen statewide.
Another area of concern, and one tracked by the Police Association, is that the number of officer involved shootings is also up. In 2006 there was a then record seven such shootings across the state. This year, there have already been 23. “It really seems like individuals are becoming much more aggressive and desperate in terms of their contact with law enforcement,” said Palmer.