Attack the ambush: Remembering the Lakewood Four
According to FBI LEOKA data, 45 police officers were killed in ambush situations in just three years (2009 to 2011)
On November 29, 2009 — three years ago exactly — four Lakewood (Wash.) police officers were murdered in cold blood by a paroled felon who had been bailed out of jail less than a week prior to his ambush attack at Forza Coffee.
Four LEOs dead in an attack that reportedly lasted less than 60 seconds.
In memory of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards, let’s honor these fallen warriors by thinking deeply on the topic of ambush attacks.
The LEOKA Numbers
The percentage of officers murdered in ambush situations has gone down each year only because the total number of officers killed has increased while ambush deaths has remained exactly the same (15 each year for three consecutive years).
During ILEETA 2012, I recorded an interview with my very good friend and PoliceOne colleague Dick Fairburn on the topic of ambush attacks.
We talked about the increasing frequency of ambush attacks on officers, the different types of ambush attacks, and some thoughts on fighting your way through an ambush.
Check out the video and pick up the remainder of this column below.
Dealing with an Ambush
At Roll Call...
Here are just a few elements to consider (add your own “takeaways” in the comments area below):
• Ambush can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone, so don’t let “routine” degrade your awareness (without getting paranoid or living in a perpetual state of condition orange)
Attacking the Ambush
After Maurice Clemmons executed Officer Griswold and Sergeant Renninger with fatal, close-range headshots, Officer Owens and Richards engaged their attacker. Ultimately, those two heroes also died, but not before one of them was able to put at least one hole in Clemmons’ abdomen.
After a two-day manhunt, Officer Ben Kelly of the Seattle Police Department came upon another would-be ambush by Clemmons.
Kelly observed the trap — a 1990 Acura on the street with the hood up and the engine running — and noticed a male approaching from behind and to the left of his squad.
Kelly exited his vehicle, recognized Clemmons, and issued verbal commands for him to stop.
When Clemmons failed to comply, Kelly attacked the ambush.
Remembering the Lakewood Four
Anniversaries such as these can become an emotional ambush. Attack that, too. If you need to talk with someone, do it.
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