FBI Director Christopher Wray says that cop killings in the U.S. skyrocketed last year, telling CBS News that violence against law enforcement is not receiving enough attention.
In an interview on "60 Minutes" Sunday evening, Wray revealed there was a 59% increase in the murders of police officers in 2021, with 73 officers killed. That disturbing statistic follows a 29% increase in murders in the United States in 2020, with nearly 5,000 more people killed than in the year before.
CBS News' Scott Pelley asked what caused the surge of homicides.
"Certainly the pandemic didn't help. There's a variety of ways in which that contributed to it," Wray said.
"We're seeing more and more juveniles committing violent crime, and that's certainly an issue. We're seeing a certain amount of gun trafficking, interstate gun trafficking. That's part of it. And we're seeing an alarming frequency of some of the worst of the worst getting back out on the streets," he added.
The FBI director shared that last year, police officers "were being killed at a rate of almost one every five days."
"Violence against law enforcement in this country is one of the biggest phenomena that I think doesn't get enough attention," he said.
Wray indicated that an "alarming" number of murdered officers appear to have been intentionally targeted and were either ambushed or shot while out on patrol.
"They were killed because they were police officers," Pelley said.
"Right. Wearing the badge shouldn't make you a target," Wray replied.
This trend of violence against police officers appears to be continuing in 2022. Earlier this month, the National Fraternal Order of Police reported that as of April 1, there have already been 101 officers shot this year and 17 officers killed by gunfire. The police union said there have been 19 ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers this year, a 36% increase from the same period in 2021.
"These historic numbers are horrific and are an absolute stain on our society," the union said. "When the vast majority of media elites decide that this issue isn’t worth covering, it speaks volumes as to where our society is heading."
Wray said that the FBI is working with local law enforcement and deploying task forces in "specific hot spots" to combat violent crime.
"Last year I think we arrested something like 15,000 violent gang members around the country. And part of what fuels us to pursue this mission is our deep conviction that law enforcement's most sacred duty is to ensure that people can live free from fear in their own homes and neighborhoods," he said.