Police officers from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles California were on high alert Monday after the execution style killings of two police officers in Brooklyn, New York. Police patrolling urban areas have been warned to wear bulletproof vests and keep their eyes open for any suspicious activity that could indicate that their lives are in danger. The warnings come after police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their car as they ate lunch during a training activity by a lone suspect that later committed suicide.
The heightened tensions between the police and the communities that they patrol have been on display since several high profile cases of police officers killing unarmed black men and youth in several states around the country. In New York, Eric Garner died after being placed in an illegal chokehold by an NYPD officer. In Missouri, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed after being confronted by an officer for walking in the street. In two incidents in Ohio, a man was gunned down by police in a Walmart while holding a toy gun sold by the store and a 12-year-old boy was shot while carrying a similar toy weapon in a public park. The police officers involved in the incidents that have been brought before a grand jury have been acquitted of criminal charges.
The two officers were shot to death inside their patrol car by a suspect identified as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Earlier in the day of the shooting, the suspect had posted on social media detailing his intentions to kill police officers in retaliation for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner since the justice system would not prosecute the officers involved. In one Instagram post, the suspect vowed that he was going to put “wings on pigs” before the end of the day. After the shootings of the officers, Brinsley ran a few blocks to a subway station, where he committed suicide with a gunshot to the head.
In the aftermath of the killings, some cities are telling their officers to patrol in threes when on the streets or recommend responding to calls with at least two cars. It is unclear how long these additional precautionary measures will remain in place, but as long as the protests continue, many police officers will continue to feel as if there is a special target on their backs.