The “war on cops” meme has been deployed over the years because it works so effectively to shut down discussions about police reform. That means even in the wake of prominent killings of police officers, people who insist they support cops will turn to politicizing such killings in order to stymie broader conversations about reform.

Yesterday at the Republican National Convention was a great example of that. Rudy Giuliani insisted cops had a “target on their backs.” Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, another RNC speaker, said there was a “war” in this country in which Black Lives Matter was the enemy.

Yet even with the deadly attacks in Baton Rouge and Dallas, police line of duty deaths (and fatal shootings) are both on pace to be similar to numbers in recent years. That’s not to be dismissive of this month’s tragedy, but to be dismissive of the awful politicization of these tragedies (first by a left obsessed with gun control, now by opponents of police reform). There have been 31 fatal police shootings this year, on pace for 58*, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund. While there were 39 fatal shootings of police officers last year and 47 in 2014, the year police reform became a mainstream issue, the war on cops rhetoric predates the current uptick. This year’s numbers are lower than 2011, when 68 law enforcement officers were shot and killed, 2010 with 59, and 2007, when 67 were killed. Killings of police officers have been going down for decades, despite an increase in the U.S. population and in the employment rolls of law enforcement.

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