Police Chief William Lansdowne stops in front of the casket of Jeremy Henwood, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011 in San Diego. Jeremy Henwood went to Iraq twice as a Marine and returned in February from a combat tour in one of Afghanistan's most troubled regions. But it was at home in San Diego where he was killed, shot in the head in an unprovoked attack during routine police patrol. (AP Photo/ Nelvin C. Cepeda, Pool)
FEATURED IN NEWS
- Grand Jury Clears Officers in FSU Shooting
- Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police
- Three Dead after Driver Crashes into California Pedestrians
- Mississippi Deputy Killed in Crash
- Over 70 Children Go Christmas Shopping with Tennessee Officers
- Nordstrom Worker Fired for Police Killing Facebook Post
- Tension Grows Between NYC Mayor and Police Union
Four months left in 2011 and our line of duty deaths now total 121. That’s 6% ahead of this time last year. Sixteen officers lost their lives during the month of August. Every one of these losses was a tragedy, but some of these deaths just did not have to happen.
Seven officers died in vehicle incidents--three who lost control of their vehicle and left the roadway. One who crossed over the median and struck oncoming cars. One who was rear-ended by a large truck and one whose vehicle was struck by an oncoming vehicle that crossed the center line. One officer died when a pursued vehicle intentionally rammed two police cars, killing one officer and injuring another.
Five officers died in gunfire incidents. Two officers with the same agency died when a suspect being questioned suddenly opened fire on three officers, killing two and wounding a third. One officer was shot in the face with a shotgun during a disturbance call. One officer was ambushed in his vehicle by a subject who pulled alongside and shot him in the head with a shotgun. One officer was shot and killed by a subject he was chasing on foot.
One officer died during a physical agility test. The 29-year-old officer collapsed near the end of a 1.5 mile run.
One officer and his K-9 drowned when they were swept away in swift moving flood waters.
A probation officer was killed when she was accidentally shot during training.
We must continue to objectively examine each of these losses and determine where changes can be made to prevent future deaths. It would be insensitive and inappropriate to begin second-guessing each of the above losses but we must not simply move on and accept these losses as the norm. Even with the brief descriptions provided above, it is clear that there are obvious areas for constructive change and improvement in safety.
Doing this will save lives.
There is growing concern over the number of police shootings that appear to be outright ambushes. In these cases, the suspect chose to engage an officer (or officers) and used an element of surprise to attack. This is something that is terribly hard to predict but underscores the absolute necessity of maintaining a keen awareness of surroundings and staying in a condition of readiness. Unfortunately, the nature of our job as public servants means that we must be accessible and approachable. Wear your armor. Watch your back and practice contact and cover principles when working with other officers.
It is everyone’s job to make this situation better. When you see another officer taking unnecessary chances, not wearing body armor, not using safety equipment or going without a seatbelt, say something. Peer pressure is powerful and doing things safely should be the norm, not the exception. Look for ways to improve officer safety in every part of your job. It could be something as simple as debris on the firing range that could cause an accident. Remember: If it’s predictable, it’s preventable!
END OF WATCH: AUGUST 2011
Law Officer thanks each of these officers for their service, and sends its sincerest condolences to their friends, families and fellow brothers and sisters in blue.
Aug. 1: Det. Tina Rambo, Ocean County (N.J.) Prosecutor's Office
N.J. Detective Killed in an Automobile Accident
Aug. 1: Trooper Frederick "Fred" F. Guthrie, Jr., Missouri State Highway Patrol
Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Dies in Flood Water
Aug. 1: Deputy Sheriff David Jennings Dawson, III, Greene County (N.C.) Sheriff's Office
N.C. Deputy Killed in Single-Vehicle Accident
Aug. 2: Police Officer James Ryan McCandless, Rapid City (S.D.) Police Department
Rapid City Officer Killed, Two Wounded During Investigation
Aug. 4: Probation/Parole Officer II Jeffrey "Jeff" Settle, North Carolina Department of Correction, Division of Community Corrections
N.C. Probation Officer Killed in Automobile Accident
Aug. 7: Police Officer Jeremy Henwood, San Diego (Calif.) Police Department
San Diego Officer Dies after Ambush, Suspect Dies Later in Gunfight
Aug. 7: Police Officer Nick Armstrong, Rapid City (S.D.) Police Department
Second South Dakota Officer Dies from Shootout Injuries
Aug. 9: Corporal John Kendall, Louisiana Department of Public Safety Police
Louisiana DPS Officer Dies in Crash
Aug. 11: Police Officer Robert A. Lasso, Freemansburg Borough (Pa.) Police Department
Pennsylvania Officer Shot and Killed During Disturbance Investigation
Aug. 16: Patrolman Evan Burns, Caruthersville (Mo.) Police Department
Suspect Crashes, Kills Missouri Officer