Too many times in my career I heard the alert tone switch on the radio and the most feared words in policing come over the radio. 11-99, officer down, shots fired, All units respond code 3. Instantly fear, anger, sadness and hope wells in you, as you drive as fast as you can to help. Hope that the officer is alive and will survive. Fear that he/she may not. Anger that its not under your control and sadness that a family will grieve.
I have stood at attention at their funerals with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart, as we buried 9 SDPD officers who fell to hostile actions. Eureka has lost three officers over the years. EPD Officers Click on EPD to learn more about them.
The good news. This years police homicides are down 3%. While not down much, every life counts. California police deaths fell from 15 to 5. A number we can be proud of and take comfort in. Below is an email I sent to EPD officers. If you get a moment, let them know you care. It means the world to them.
In 2015, 129 U.S. law enforcement officers (state, local, tribal, and federal) tragically died in the line-of-duty. This figure is down approximately 3% from 2014 during which there were 133 fatalities. Of the 129 in 2015:
- 49 were the result of traffic and motor vehicle-related incidents
- 41 were the result of firearms-related incidents
- 18 were the result of fatal heart attacks
- 21 officers died from other causes, average age was 40
- Average length of service was 12.5 years
- 92 percent of the fallen were male officers, 8 percent were female
Among the 49 traffic and motor vehicle-related fatalities:
- 28 officers died in automobile accidents
- 4 officers died in motorcycle accidents
- 5 officers died in crashes during vehicular pursuits
- 5 officers were fatally struck by other vehicles (non-feloniously)
- 7 officers died in felonious vehicular incidents (including those involving intoxicated drivers)
Traffic-related fatalities, whether resulting from automobile crashes or officers being struck on the side of the road while conducting traffic stops, continue to account for a glaring percentage of line-of-duty deaths each year despite being significantly down from previous decades. These incidents continue to account for the majority of officer fatalities and they are largely preventable.
Among the 41 firearms-related fatalities:
- 7 officers were killed as part of domestic complaints
- 6 officers were killed during traffic stops
- Perpetrators used handguns in the majority of fatal assaults against officers
To all of the officers working a beat car or detective assignment…stay frosty!