Fourth Area Officer Killed in 2 Years

Officer Down: Officer James Mulay - [Peoria County, Illinois]

Copley News Service
May 20, 2003 Tuesday

The black mourning bands are becoming a fairly common sight on the badges of central Illinois police officers. For the fourth time in less than two years, local law enforcement will mourn the death of one of their own.

Police agencies from across Illinois and perhaps neighboring states will gather Friday as Peoria County Sheriff's Deputy James Mulay is laid to rest in a Kickapoo cemetery. He was killed early Monday in a two-vehicle crash caused by an alleged drunken driver.

"(Mulay) was liked by a lot of people, loved by a lot of people," Sheriff Mike McCoy said Monday. "It's hard to believe. We're just trying to combine our loss with the business we have to do every day."

That statement nearly echoed the words McCoy used almost a year ago, when then-Sheriff Chuck Schofield suffered a heart attack during what was to be routine outpatient surgery. He never regained consciousness and died a few days later.

Looking back, no one in these circles minded that before September 2001, the mourning bands and flags flying at half-staff, symbolizing the death of an officer, were absent for 15 years.

Before Peoria police Officer Donan "Jim" Faulkner was shot to death in September 2001 in the South Peoria district he patrolled, no officer in Peoria County had died on duty since October 1987, when Sheriff's Deputy John Sack was fatally shot while serving a search warrant.

Before Faulkner, the last city officer died on duty was Norvall Wright Jr., who died in a motorcycle crash in September 1953.

Faulkner's death brought thousands of officers into Peoria to pay tribute to the father of five. Cops, of course, prayed that such an occasion would not come along for many more years.

But in March, many of the same officers were preparing for a similar tribute to fallen Stark County Deputy Adam Streicher, 22, who died while serving a warrant to Curtis Thompson of Toulon. After allegedly shooting Streicher, police say Thompson fatally shot James and Janet Giesenhagen and then took off in Streicher's squad car before finally being taken into custody.

Three months later, Schofield's death surprised Peoria County and brought hundreds of police officers again into the county.

Statistics kept by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund show that more than 15,000 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty since the first recorded police death in 1792.

Between 1997 and 2001, the most common cause of death for officers was being shot. Auto accidents were a close second, followed by being fatally struck by a vehicle.

A state monument in Springfield honors 856 Illinois officers who have died in the line of duty. Seven of those names were added in May during Illinois Police Officers' Memorial Day ceremonies.

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