CONROE, Texas (FOX 26) - The prayer vigil in support of law enforcement officers outside the Conroe Police Department had been planned for a week and the timing couldn't have been better.
“It made me think we need this now more than ever. now more than ever.” said vigil organizer Dave McMahon. He's talking about the ambush shooting of six police officers in Baton Rouge. Three officers died, three others were wounded. The man who shot the officers was also killed.
Many police officers in 2015 said they believed a war on police had begun. Statistics actually showed 2015 was a relatively-safe year for police officers, 42 of them were shot and killed. It was part of a ten-year average decline in fatal shootings of police officers. Now, some police officers are absolutely sure that a war has indeed begun.
“There is, there is a war on police officers," said Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage. "To end up like we have in the last month.”
On July 7, a man fired gunshots at police protecting a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally, which led to the deaths of five officers and wounded seven others as well as two civilians.
On July 8, a man contacted 911 and requested police, then allegedly shot the responding officer to death. That same day in a St. Louis suburb, a driver shot and paralyzed an officer who had stopped him for speeding.
According to USA Today, 26 officers have been shot and killed in 2016, that's is an increase of 44 percent over 2015. But are these anomalies or has a guerilla war begun? The Conroe Police Department chief doesn’t believe so.
“I think everybody jumps to conclusions about things," said Chief Philip Dupuis. "Until all the facts come out we get so emotional. I think that everybody has to wait for all the facts, let it work itself out.” As proof, he points to the support right outside his own department headquarters.
War or not, Governor Abbott introduced the Police Protection Act on Monday, elevating violent offenses against police as hate crimes.