Photo Dale Stockton
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With only one month left in 2012, the line-of-duty death toll now stand at 112, more than 25% below where it was this time last year. Eleven officers were killed during November: four by suspect gunfire, two struck by vehicles, two in a helicopter crash, two of medical emergencies and one from an accidental (friendly fire) gunshot.
On behalf of everyone at Law Officer, I extend the most sincere condolences to the coworkers, families and departments who have suffered a loss during the month of November. Tragically, one department—Atlanta PD—lost two officers this month.
In order of occurrence, here are the losses for November:
U.S. Border Patrol Agent David Delaney, 44, died after suffering a medical emergency while on foot patrol in Brewster County, Texas. He was in the process of hiking to a location near Big Bend National Park to set up a camera when he suffered the medical emergency.
Atlanta Police Officers Richard Halford, 48, and Shawn Smiley, 40, were killed in a helicopter crash while assisting in the search for a missing nine-year-old boy at approximately 10:30 pm. They were flying low over an area approximately four miles west of downtown when the Hughes OH-6A helicopter suddenly crashed to the ground. The helicopter exploded on impact. The crash is under investigation. The boy they were searching for was found safe a short time later. Officer Halford had been with Atlanta PD for 26 years and had been assigned as a pilot for 16 years. Officer Smiley had been a tactical flight officer for one year.
Cleveland, Ohio, PD Officer Marcia Figueroa, 54, died after suffering a medical emergency while assigned to a protective detail at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for Air Force One and President Barack Obama during a campaign visit. She was flown to University Hospital after she collapsed but died the following day. She had been with the department for 14 years.
Puerto Rico Police Agent Iván Román-Matos, 34, was shot and killed as he and his partner responded to a robbery at a store in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, at approximately 8:40 pm. As the officers arrived at the scene, Agent Román-Matos pursued one subject while his partner pursued the other. The first subject opened fire and. Although Agent Román-Matos was wearing body armor, he was struck four times in the head and neck. He died a short time later. Both suspects were arrested. Agent Román-Matos had been with the department for seven months.
Lakewood, Colo., Police Agent Jim Davies, 35, was accidentally shot and killed in a case of friendly fire while securing the perimeter of a scene where shots had been fired. Lakewood officers had responded to an unrelated prowler call when they heard gunfire coming from a nearby house. The officers took three subjects into custody after one man was observed firing a handgun in front of the house. As multiple officers worked to secure the perimeter of the house, Agent Davies was mistaken for an assailant and was fatally shot by another officer. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Agent Davies had been assigned to the Special Enforcement Team.
Henry County, Ga., Police Officer Elgin Daniel, 53, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while assisting a stranded motorist who had run out of gas. The motorist was being helped by Officer Daniel and a roadside assistance worker who was putting gas in the car. A passing pickup struck both Officer Daniel and the assistance worker before fleeing the scene. Officer Daniel succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. The worker was seriously injured. The hit-and-run driver was later arrested. Officer Daniel had previously served with the DeKalb County Police Department for 26 years.
Marion County, Ky., Deputy Sheriff Anthony Rakes, 31, was shot and killed after stopping behind a vehicle that stopped in the middle of a highway near Lebanon, at approximately 2:00 am. As the deputy was approaching the car, the driver shot him with a small caliber handgun. Deputy Rakes, who was struck in the chest, was not wearing body armor. The suspect was later arrested by members of the Kentucky State Police and Campbellsville Police Department.
Baldwin County, Ala., Deputy Sheriff Scott Ward, 47, was shot and killed after he and two other deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call involving an emotionally disturbed person. The man’s mother had called police after she was unable to contact her son by phone and went to his home. Upon her arrival she was unable to calm him down. The deputies were speaking to the subject on the front porch when he suddenly produced a handgun and opened fire. Deputy Ward and one other deputy were shot before the subject was killed by return fire. All three deputies on scene were wearing body armor. Deputy Ward sustained a wound that was outside the vest area and proved fatal. The other deputy who was struck by gunfire was saved by his vest.
Illinois State Police Trooper Kyle Deatherage, 32, was struck and killed by a tractor trailer while making a traffic stop on I-55, near Litchfield. He had parked his motorcycle on the shoulder and was speaking with the driver of the stopped vehicle when the collision occurred. He had been with the state police for three years.
Cold Spring, Minn., Police Officer Tom Decker, 31, was shot and killed as he and his partner performed a welfare check on a man whose family believed was suicidal. During an initial check-the-welfare effort, the officers had been unsuccessful in contacting the subject. They returned approximately 45 minutes later and, as they made contact with the subject, he opened fire, killing Officer Decker.
These officers left behind eight spouses and 21 children who will now have only memories of their loved ones. The tragedy of their untimely passing will follow the survivors for the rest of their lives.
We must make every possible effort to drive down our line-of-duty deaths and the most effective way to do that is by concentrating on those areas where officers have the most control. That’s why the five tenets of Below 100 are so important:
- Wear your belt.
- Wear your vest.
- Watch your speed.
- WIN – What’s Important Now?
- Remember: Complacency Kills!
Learn more about Below 100 at www.Below100.com.
Note: We rely on ODMP (www.odmp.org) for the official numbers and summaries that result in our monthly end-of-watch reports. I strongly encourage you (especially trainers!) to visit their site because so much can be learned from the LODD summaries that are provided.