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NASW Statement on Baton Rouge Police Shootings

Baton Rouge law enforcement officers (from left) Montrell Jackson, Brade Garafola and Matthew Gerald. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Baton Rouge law enforcement officers (from left) Montrell Jackson, Brade Garafola and Matthew Gerald. Photo courtesy of CNN.


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers its condolences to the family and colleagues of three slain Baton Rouge law enforcement officers and urges legislators, the police and the public peacefully come together to address gun violence, enact sensible gun laws, and help police improve relations with the communities they serve.

Baton Rouge law enforcement officers Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald on Sunday were killed by a gunman who was a former Marine and was apparently led by the distorted rationalization that violence can rectify a perceived social wrong.

Their deaths followed more than a week of violence and public unrest, including the police shootings of two African American men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota and the killing of five police officers in Dallas.

These tragic incidents have again focused attention on sensible gun laws, policing, and race relations in the United States.  NASW hopes these issues will be addressed peacefully. Violence against law enforcement is counterproductive and divisive and will not address the root causes of these social problems.

NASW and members of the social work profession have long been committed to addressing social problems using peaceful means. In the days, weeks and months ahead NASW will continue working with partner organizations and policymakers to push for reforms, including:

  • A ban on assault weapons that have been typically used in mass shootings and more recently to kill police in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
  • Pressing Congress to lift the ban that prevents the Centers for Disease Control from conducting comprehensive research on the causes and prevention of gun violence in the United States.
  • A new agency within the U.S. Department of Justice to enact national standards on the use of lethal police force.
  • Training to help end police violence and racial profiling.
  • Mandatory use of body cameras by police.
  • The demilitarization of police forces.

Despite recent tragedies our nation remains resilient and resourceful. Although progress may seem slow, NASW is confident our culturally rich and diverse and rich nation will come together to lessen occurrences of such senseless acts of violence.


  1. I’m appalled by the NASW response of the fallen officers. Please next time leave the politics such as gun laws and improving police relations out. A simple and heart felt message for the fallen officers and their families is all that is needed.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Christine:

      Of course NASW sympathizes with the family of the officers and recognizes the value law enforcement brings to our nation. At the same time this association is pressing for reforms to help prevent such tragedies in the future. It is important that be expressed in the statement.

      Greg Wright
      NASW Public Relations Manager

    • Agreed! This is not the feelings of all NASW members. I think fovernment funding can be used in far more important areas than gun control. Social workers should be more concerned with intervening before the troubled individuals get to the point when they are resorting to violence.

  2. I’m saddened that your response and empathy was just for the officers. I thought social workers advocated for ALL not select group of people. An appropriate response would have been to acknowledge the slain officers & victims of police brutality. If the NASW really cared then acknowledging the slain civilians would have been in the first paragraph NOT the second. Blacks ARE NOT just an “afterthought” because ALL LIVES SHOULD MATTER & the NASW just illustrated why the Black Lives Matter Movement advocates for black lives since the media & others won’t (i.e. NASW). Thank you NASW for further opening a racial wound. I have just become so disillusioned & disheartened since I read your statement. I’ve been a social worker for 4 years & for the first time in my career I SERIOUSLY have a sense of disgust & burnout because the ONE ORGANIZATION I thought would back me clearly pushes its own agenda then further divides a society. Thanks!

    • I would like to retract my statement & apologize for being misinformed. I do apologize to the NASW & fellow social workers. Please forgive me.

    • And tell me why the officers who died tragically and left families in trauma need to be on the same statement? None of those men deserved to be executed. The sad part of this is the majority of police officers are good people and out to protect the public. It’s the bad cops that give all officers a bad name and reputation. You don’t hear about the good and positive cops who do good jobs because it does not make headlines nor ratings. I think a heartfelt report does not always have to be followed or even mention brutality. Those were innocent officers killed and BLM group are nothing but radicals looking for a day of violence however that being said there was a great article written on the police meeting and working with a group of people associated with BLM and they worked things out which lead to all of them sharing dancing in the street. My point not everyone is what the are assumed to be.

  3. NASW National commented on the Police Executions because the article was about Police Deaths by Shootings. NASW’s response did include mentioning the shootings of African-American men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.
    Perhaps social workers would be happier if the U.S. eliminated the police.

  4. I have alway found it ironic that during my MSW schooling, we were always taught to use research/unbiased type in our methods and work. If you ever read the research, government and otherwise, especially the report requested by Obama, in regards to gun violence, and followed it, your whole position on gun control would change. Since 1950, all but 3 mass shootings have been done in “gun free zones.” Gun free zones are soft targets. Obama and his cohorts cherry pick and misrepresent the research. Yes, 80,000 people died from gun shot wounds in that recent report. 50,000 were suicides. That means 30,000 died by the had of another. However what you fail to look at is that the evidence that has been gleaned so far, 300,000 lives have been saved when those who were at risk by a perpetrator either used a firearm or presented one in self defense. So there are 270,000 plus lives that were saved due to firearms over those who were lost. Firearms are a deterrent. The Founders knew human nature better than the NASW leaders who make these ridiculous statements based on sentimentality instead of reality. I am the last one that would want to see anyone killed being both a priest and therapist. But I don’t let my desire to see violence end be guided by magical thinking like the NASW and the progressives who support more and more government control (people control) when much of the government is corrupt as it is. I was taught to watch behavior instead of words because behavior reflects intention. Government intervention just cost me my mental health job, having my pay cut by 30% without having a COLA raise in 5 years previous to this. Wake up!

  5. Also, information on the Dallas shooting is pointing to an SKS rifle, not an AR-15 or an “assault” weapon. If you research AR-15’s you will learn that it is not an assault weapon. It is a semi-automatic.

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