Knight: Officers today are more likely to be assaulted violently by the people they are arresting. There is no longer the almost certain death penalty for assaulting or killing a law enforcement officer. Suspect are better armed and not afraid to kill an officer, then claim childhood trauma caused them to act the way they did. Officers are better equipped, trained and armed now than ever before. Any action the officer takes, he realizes he will be second guessed and sued, and possibly face criminal or federal charges.
Doggett: The biggest threat being perceived by officers would not be physical but financial. The increased expense of health insurance, forgone annual pay increases and the attack on pensions.
As far as being addressed; these are complicated issues being handled by our FOP union, elected union representatives, pension board representatives and outside my area of my expertise to fully elaborate.
In the coming years, what do you see as the biggest obstacles or barriers to the industry?
Doggett: Coping with social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). The public now is able to immediately share information about police contacts with potentially millions of people. Officers must conduct themselves under the pretense that they are likely being video recorded, and that interaction may make its way to the Internet for “Monday morning quarterbacking.”
What were the biggest challenges law enforcement faced throughout the past year?
Knight: Funding. I realize money is tight but law enforcement must be a priority.
Doggett: Budgetary cutbacks ... resulted in reduced manpower. Although my agency did not lay off any personnel, we also did not replace six sworn officers (from 45 to 39) and two civilians that separated on their own.
Do you see better or worse economic times ahead?
Knight: It is going to take years for law enforcement to recover from these economic times. Even if we were told to hire tomorrow it will take years to replace officers and build back up to our pre-2007, 2008 times.