Americans were stunned two weeks ago when a sniper opened fire on Dallas police officers, killing five and injuring nine others before being sent to his eternal reward. A hot reward, if there is any justice. But while the tragic event itself – spurred on by racial hatred – was bad enough, the trend it was a part of is nothing less than a national crisis.

28 police officers have been shot and killed in 2016 alone, a figure that puts us on a rate 44% higher than last year. Most of these officers were killed as a result of criminal interactions, but the rate of ideology-based ambushes has also gone through the roof. Since the beginning of 2014, 34 cops have been killed as the result of these ambush-style attacks.

It’s hard to have a “conversation” when this is what it looks like in communities across the country.

Unfortunately, though, the media rewards these cop killers by giving their complaints a platform. And it’s not just Micah Johnson and other individuals who kill police officers in the name of Black Lives Matter. It’s the rioters who set fire to Ferguson and Baltimore as well. The media pretend to condemn these rioters, but you can’t deny that they get a lot more coverage than a peaceful protest.

Black Americans deserve to be treated with respect by law enforcement, but our police officers must know that they have the unconditional support of the community. Their jobs are dangerous enough. If they begin to believe they could be targeted for assassination simply for wearing the blue uniform, many of them might choose to find another line of work. What, exactly, will the country look like when no one wants to stand up and join the thin blue line?

As someone pointed out to President Obama in a town hall on race relations, inner city black communities need police protection more than any other neighborhoods. Even with the benefit of a strong police force, many of these communities have become war zones, thrusting innocent people into harm’s way on a daily basis. Theft, drugs, and violence are everywhere. Citizens living in these neighborhoods cannot afford the fallout from a war on police.

Over the last decade, we’ve gotten a little too comfortable with lawbreaking. Be that as it may, this is one area where we can’t make the mistake of being soft on crime. And we must be very careful to avoid incentivizing the murder of police officers by giving killers and their agenda the attention they crave.