A disturbing trend of increasing attacks on city police officers has experts sounding the alarm, attributing the rise to a combination of factors including radical protests, an influx of criminal migrants, bail reform, anti-cop rhetoric, and lenient prosecutors. According to the latest data from the New York Police Department (NYPD), the number of officers injured in attacks surged by 20% in 2022, with 4,724 uniformed officers suffering injuries compared to 3,933 in 2021. The situation worsened in 2023, as 4,077 officers were injured by suspects in just the first nine months, putting the year on track for a record-breaking 5,436 injuries.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry described the situation as a “full-blown epidemic,” emphasizing the need for consistent prosecution and incarceration of those who attack police officers. The NYPD’s data categorizes injuries into three levels: physical injury, substantial injury, and serious physical injury. In 2021, a total of 295 officers experienced substantial or serious injuries, which increased by 7% to 315 in 2022. The first three quarters of 2023 saw 261 such injuries, indicating a potential 10% spike to 348 by year-end.
The recent assault on two police officers in Times Square, caught on camera and involving as many as 14 migrants, further highlights the severity of the issue. Only one suspect was jailed, while five were charged but released without bail. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg recently indicted seven of the alleged attackers on new felonies, but all were already at large. This incident is part of a series of violent assaults on police officers, leading to concerns among law enforcement personnel.
Officers on the ground express frustration and fear, with one female officer recounting how she sprained her hand while apprehending a shoplifting suspect who fought back. The suspect was released the same day, reflecting a lack of respect for the law. Another officer highlighted the prevailing anti-cop sentiment, which hampers their ability to respond to violent suspects due to potential civilian complaints and departmental discipline.
NYPD Lt. John Macari expressed concern over the emasculation of the police force, stating that officers are now more afraid of the legal consequences of taking action than for their own safety. Observers attribute this growing crisis to soft-on-crime prosecutors like Alvin Bragg, a City Council pushing anti-cop legislation, and state bail reform that allows accused criminals to walk free. The revolving-door justice system, where criminals are coddled and police officers vilified, has emboldened criminals and created an environment with no consequences for resisting arrest or assaulting officers.
Retired NYPD Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, blames politicians who harbor animosity towards the police and seek to abolish them. He also points to constraints placed on officers by Albany, such as cashless bail and the Raise the Age law, which limit the consequences for criminal behavior. The City Council’s overbroad bans on “chokeholds” and reforms that hold officers personally liable for use-of-force incidents gone wrong further exacerbate the situation.
The tide against the NYPD began to turn when Bill de Blasio announced his mayoral candidacy in 2013, with his anti-police platform and controversial statements. Viral videos in 2019 showing individuals throwing buckets of water at police officers further eroded respect for law enforcement.