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Officer Deaths on the Rise

Officer Deaths on the Rise

St. Joseph News-Press

May 21, 2011

With law enforcement deaths on the rise, officers take this week, National Police Week, to remember those officers who have lost their life while protecting the communities they served.

The number of officers killed in the line of duty has increased dramatically over the past two and a half years, according to statistics provided by the Officer Down Memorial Page. In 2009, 132 officers died in the line of duty, with 47 of their deaths from gunfire; in 2010, 158 officers died, 59 by gunfire; and so far in 2011, there have been 67 officers who have lost their lives, 31 by gunfire. Even more alarming, said Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Hardin, is so far in 2011, an officer has lost his or her life every 55 hours.

“Those sound almost like war numbers more than you would think of on the streets of the United States,” Mr. Hardin said.

With officer deaths on the rise, the St. Joseph Police Department has become more vigilant in the way it responds to calls . Capt. Kevin Castle, spokesman for the St. Joseph Police Department, said officers are aware of the statistics as they are made available, especially the way the officer was killed, in order to better understand how to respond to similar situations.

“Officers are trained to practice good officer safety skills daily regardless of the situation, so what is happening nationally is really just more of a reminder of why they need to be vigilant in everything they do,” he said.

Mr. Hardin said dangerous situations officers face could come from any routine call, whether it be a traffic stop, a domestic violence situation or a shots fired call.

For the first three months of 2011, violent crimes in St. Joseph have decreased from last year, but property crimes are slightly higher. Violent crime numbers from April and May are expected to be a “little higher,” than last year but the reports have yet to be released, Mr. Castle said, stressing that it’s difficult to speculate if any numbers are statistically significant when only comparing the first few months of the year.

Despite that, the numbers are still disheartening, Mr. Hardin said, especially since public safety departments across the nation are facing budget cuts, creating an increased risk not only for the public, but for fellow officers as well. In St. Joseph, two officers were cut in the department over the last year, leaving only nine officers to patrol the streets on a given night, which is only one officer for every 8,000 people, he said.

“It’s a dangerous game, it’s a dangerous profession. At the end of the day we’re going to do our best to go home to our families and citizens have to understand that. If we happen to come up on a situation and a citizen thinks we’re being too abrasive, they have to understand that we’re doing it for officer safety, to protect ourselves and other officers,” Mr. Hardin said.

With National Police Week this week, officers continue to remember the 20,000 law enforcement who have lost their lives nationwide, 17 of which served the community of St. Joseph.

Last weekend, Officer Dan De Kraai’s name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and every year from now his name will be read in a national roll call of fallen officers. Four officers from the St. Joseph Police Department, along with Mr. De Kraai’s family, were there for the ceremony.

Locally, a memorial was held last week and officers will be wearing mourning bands over their badges this week in honor of those who died.

“We’re never going to forget these heroes who made a difference just trying to protect people they don’t even know…,” Mr. Hardin said. “We’re going to recognize and remember their sacrifices they made to both the law enforcement community and the communities they serve.”


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    UpLateAgain

    over 1 year ago

    2 Comments

    Police officer danger is somewhat different from other professions in that a key element of doing the job of a police officer is looking for danger. When people (in any profession) are killed or injured, it’s generally because they don’t see the threat coming. The threat to officers is inherently so great, that they often spend a majority of their energies looking for it. As a result, they are usually ready for it when it presents. Officers tend to get killed or injured when their normal level of situational awareness, for whatever reason, lapses.

    Officer fatalities are currently going up for a number of reasons. 1.) Critical situations for officers frequently involve the employment of perishable skills (i.e. skills that degrade if not routinely reinforced through training and correction of developing bad habits). But when budgets get thin, training is the first thing to go. 2.) Most agencies these days are operating at well below optimum staffing levels. Officers frequently take calls solo these days, which they would not have taken without a cover unit just a couple of years ago. 3.) Also because of staffing shortages, officers start their shifts with calls stacked on the dispatcher’s screen, and seldom, if ever, get caught up. There is a great deal of pressure to “clear the screen”, as citizens expect police response when they call. Officers begin taking shortcuts in established procedures, which work out fine most of the time, but can occasionally be disastrous. 4.) Equipment maintenance also suffers as a result of budgetary considerations. Agencies that used to replace cars every 35,000 miles now often don’t even replace tires until they hit 50,000. 5.) As yet a further result of staffing shortages, there is significantly greater stress put on officers than would optimally be the case. This combines with long work hours, forced overtime, family stress from officers being away from home more than normal, and often poor nutrition (officers practically live on fast food) to significantly reduce officers’ situational awareness… particularly as the shift extends into its later hours.

    98% of the stress increase officers feel is caused not by the job itself (the conduct of which is for most officers is, in fact, often a stress reliever), but by police administrations… which induce even more stress in their officers when they have to deal with the politics involved in operating under budget (e.g., on more than one occasion in my career, I was ordered to work overtime I didn’t want-to work by one administrator, only to receive a ‘write-up’ by another for working too much overtime. I then had to use my time and energy to fight the write-up through my POA. This kind of thing is not at all uncommon in a large agency. Some Commander gets jumped because he’s exceeded his budget, and we all know what rolls down hill.)

    In short, most agencies these days are operating with no fat left in the budget and no fall-back position when things go bad. Failures that normally would be teaching points can become catastrophic scenarios all too often, with the result that officer deaths and injuries rise. Although the public would likely be shocked if they were aware of it, I have known of times where a city as large as Sacramento, CA only had six officers total on the street taking calls. There’s just no room for any error.

    Experienced officers begin leaving the profession as soon as they can retire, and the learning curve for their rookie replacements is sharper than ever. I expect that trend to continue as long as the economy sucks.

  • Prince_hall_max50

    onetime

    about 3 years ago

    1294 Comments

    Before I post, let me first say thank you to the families whose loved ones have sacrificed life so that others may have life or property. Your loved one is the true hero. To my fallen brothers and sisters although you are gone, you are not forgotten! It’s a shame how we have lost 72 police officers and it’s not even June. I have stated before in a couple of post how important it is to wear the vest. Of the 72 deaths, 31 have been as a result of gunfire. We in Law enforcement have a job that the slightest mistake can cost a life. Keep vigilant with training and awareness and above all ask for God's protection

  • Derrick_max50

    gradyg

    about 3 years ago

    1118 Comments

    GOD BLESS ALL those Officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Patient is a Virtual being over Zealous is not Wise. Stay Safe, Stay Alert and Stay Alive. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK and PRAYERS FOR ALL.

  • Cops4christ_max50

    SpencerStangz

    about 3 years ago

    420 Comments

    BUMP LonnaNJ from three posts ago...and the other two...
    BUMP Dallascrane about the training
    BUMP LonnaNJ about the prayers
    we need more respect overall in this world. we can't just rely on someone else to show it. we must be that light that shines in the darkness

    AND BUMP snhadley...the media has a way of putting things out that can easily cause drama. we can't continue to be led away from showing each other respect by getting all pumped up in that mess

  • Jack_bauer_max50

    Allen705

    about 3 years ago

    1466 Comments

    Why is it everytime we get a liberal in office, it's open season on law enforcement?? 60's, 90's, and now...can't be a coincidence.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    LonnaNJ,

    Big bump! You are on point on all of your remarks thus far. One of which is that there are many ways for LE to die that are not recognized as job related. Another, is focus on the media for reckless reporting on non issues.

  • Sf_max50

    dfreeman454

    about 3 years ago

    294 Comments

    RIP

  • Christmas_2010_038_max50

    Mongo1

    about 3 years ago

    346 Comments

    All of the officers, Deputies, and Agents on the wall deserve our respect and appreciation. The leaders of our Law Enforcement agencies need to rethink their agencies mission and capabilities. We all need to be safer as the statistics clearly stack up against us. It is never too late to make this a turn around year for officer deaths. We will win this battle, there is no other choice. How we win is the issue at hand.

  • 582602_3283682777720_334551836_n_max50

    LanaNJ

    about 3 years ago

    6950 Comments

    Just want to add one more thing, Prayers of course for the families of the officers, but special prayers to the partners. I'm not sure if Suicide is considered a LODD, but from what I've read, Suicide is one in five results of losing a Partner(LEO). So a special prayer for them.

    Delete

  • Herosonpatrol_max50

    BeachAngel

    about 3 years ago

    5892 Comments

    Thank you to all Officers and RIP to all those whom we have lost. Stay Safe out there.

  • 582602_3283682777720_334551836_n_max50

    LanaNJ

    about 3 years ago

    6950 Comments

    Ty you Spence, and Bump to the Prayer Part!
    @ Natasha, I totally agree, arena's and stadiums cost Millions if not a couple billiion, but cities can't afford of few camera's?? The revenue for just the Food Service alone, for a Jets game is over a quarter MILLION, after weighing in labor, loss, rent and kickbacks to the team and the Sports authority, they should donate.

    MORE Citizen Cooperation/Volunteers:
    I say the PD's need more Volunteers and Cooperation from the Public. Make it a felony if someone was knowingly in the area and witnessed a crime but does not cooperate. (this is why I can't be a cop, I wear a size 7.5 shoe~hint hint) People that play a faux hero role for criminal scumbags by saying "I Didn't See A Thing" is usually the same person who will be the first one to call 911 when something happens to them. The "I didn't see anything, must make a difficult job even much more intolerable. The Public has to step up, Man Up, and stop living in fear. Numbnuts need to stop thinking their some kind of Hero for living by the street code of silence. That silence, IMO, makes you a coward. Years back when I lived in a bad area, rugrats and drug dealers pretty much knew not to do that crap in front me or my kids, I refused to live in fear,I saw something, I'm ratting, period. People need to realize, that These 67 Men and Woman that died, died providing safety to the Public. Some were slaughtered for NEEDLESSLY. The Neighborhood drug addict, drug dealer, burglar, Carjacker or Gang Member will never jump infront of a bullet to protect you, wake up. Crime blindness needs to STOP, Citizens need to step up, cooperate, and even Volunteer!

  • Me_max50

    lemmonw

    about 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    Stay safe everyone. RIP to the people who served us, thank you.

  • Cops4christ_max50

    SpencerStangz

    about 3 years ago

    420 Comments

    bump LonnaNJ
    RIP brothers & sisters
    Everyone else be safe and prayed up

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    natasha74

    about 3 years ago

    604 Comments

    This is allot of dead officer's! there should be some major changes, in each city they should install camera's every street corner or every weir. In England it has proven that installed camera's at street corner's has work, the crime rate has drop dramatically. And yes we may have people against it, but it helps to get criminals in thee act, and protect the citizen in the community and law enforcement. And people that protest against camera's are the ones with the skelton in there closet.

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 3 years ago

    19382 Comments

    Stop talking about reducing budgets and talk more about training and preparation if you want the LODDs to head in the downward direction.

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