We’ve lost 767 police officers in the line of duty in just the past five years. According to ODMP, in 2007, we lost a whopping 185... in 2008 we said goodbye to 138 great cops... in 2009 that number thankfully dipped down to 116... in 2010 we mourned 162... and in Washington DC this year, 166 names have been added to The Wall in memory of those we lost in 2011.
During National Police Week 2012, we will pause periodically for moments of reflection, for moments of silence, and for moments of unmitigated grief.
We at PoliceOne will, of course, continue our mission of providing news, columnist commentary, and tactical tips as we always do — but we’ll also have a series of columns from my extraordinary roster of writers expressing their feelings about this solemn week.
PoliceOne Contributors Speak
We “officially” begin our series on Sunday morning — just hours before the candlelight vigil in Washington DC — with “Hallelujah for a fallen officer,” a poem by Dan Marcou.
Dan asked some friends from his church to perform the poem as a song — sung to the music of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen — and sent me the recording of the performance. I immediately sent that to my brothers and sisters on the PoliceOne Video Team, who then turned it into a moving “music video.” It includes pictures taken by my friend and colleague Robert Dippell at the Memorial Wall a couple of years ago.
If you can watch that video and listen to that song without shedding a tear, well, you’re made of stone — and not in a good way.
On Monday, we’ll feature a haunting piece by Andrew Hawkes entitled “I am the fallen.” On Tuesday — which is the 50th annual Police Memorial Day — we’ve scheduled Dave Grossi, whose column is entitled “We all band together.” On Wednesday — as we so often do on mid-month Wednesdays — we’ve got Chuck Remsberg (I’ll tell anyone who will listen that I aspire to one day be my generation’s Chuck Remsberg).
Chuck offers amazing insights on “Getting through the ultimate tragedy.”
On Thursday, we’ll have a wonderful column by Joel Shults entitled “Death has not won.” We close out the week on Friday with a column from Brian Willis called “Let no man’s ghost...”
To say that I am honored and humbled to be among these wonderful writers is to woefully understate the esteem I have for each of them. I’m merely a student — a devout, dutiful, dedicated student... yes — but these men are my teachers, my mentors, my heroes.
What follows for the remainder of this column is a collection of brief thoughts sent to me via email by some PoliceOne Columnists as we prepared our editorial lineup for National Police Week 2012. Oh, and a few final words from yours truly...
Please add your own comments below.
Dick Fairburn, PoliceOne Columnist
Law enforcement is a dangerous business, but you must strive to do your job as safely as possible. I believe effective leadership during high-risk incidents and realistic training are the two best “investments” you can make to minimize deaths and injuries.
The Below 100 program is a big step in the right direction, reminding all officers to use every available piece of safety gear they have, to SLOW DOWN in your responses and to live in condition yellow — always aware that danger stalks you. Traffic crashes are the #1 cause of death outside of felonious attacks and for the last three years, ambush killings have topped the list of murder circumstances.
While the overall rate of violent crime is down, the violence of those crimes is escalating off the scale. Police funerals are one of the most unsettling and unpleasant events I’ve ever attended. The only thing worse would be attending your own.
Whether your goal is to stop the killing at an active shooter event or to shame your buddy into driving more sensibly to non-emergency calls, make this your daily motto:
Not Here! Not Today!
Ed Flosi, PoliceOne Columnist
I was honored to have been able to serve as a member of the California LEOKA committee for several years. I was tasked with reviewing dozens of cases that resulted in the death of a law enforcement officer.
Although it was difficult at times, it is a task that must be done so that the rest of us can learn from these tragic events so that they might not be repeated again.
Some of the events were truly not preventable. The officer did everything right and according to their training but because of circumstances beyond their control, they made the ultimate sacrifice.
In other cases, there were some factors that could have been avoided that ultimately contributed to the officer’s death. We need to study these events and pass the knowledge along to our brothers and sisters.
Simple daily reminders to your partners like:
1.) Wear your seatbelt
2.) Wait for cover to be on-scene
3.) Practice sound tactics, such as “contact/cover”
These might be just enough to keep them safe. We’ve all seen one of our partners do something that might not be safe. Let’s show our partners how much we care about each other by having the professional courage to speak up if we see a dangerous situation.
We can all be trainers — let’s work together to drive the numbers down.
Marty Katz, PoliceOne Columnist
I arrived before anyone, on May 4th. I stood with my son, between the East and West walls of The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. We must always remember our fallen comrades and we must always support their families. Each was taken far too soon.
Tears filled my eyes.
I feel honored and sad that I know too many of the names carved here. As I turned to leave I watched a DC patrol car drive by. He was busy, on duty. I smiled knowing that I, being retired, have passed the torch to such capable and prepared warriors.
God bless them and watch over them as they continue the battle.
Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
I’m skipper of the ship. I’m also the author of this column. So I choose to have the “last word” here.
Second only to ensuring the health and happiness of my family, my mission to help every police officer be safer and more successful on the streets is the most important thing I’ve ever done. Full stop.
Truly, I live for this [bleep].
I’m certainly no morning person, but I bound from my bed every day — and not just “workdays” — with a renewed sense of purpose:
“Something I do today will help some copper out there.”
I will never know the degree to which I am successful. I will never know which LEOs were saved because of something I posted to the site — whether that’s something I’d written or something written by my roster of writers — because those success stories are going to be non-stories.
No newspaper article will come across our wires saying, “Officer credits Internet site for safety reminder which saved him/her.”
And you know what? I’m totally fine with that. In fact, that’s probably the best news I could never get!
Sadly, though, the news I continually do receive is that of officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
In every instance, my heart breaks a bit. Every time, my thoughts and prayers go out to the friends, family, and fellow-LEOs of those brave Warriors who gave everything so that we who remain might have something.
And we who remain — those of us whose mission it is to protect and serve, whether we’re sworn or non-sworn, on duty or off-duty, retired LE or 10:8 on the streets right now — carry with us the spirit of those heroes as we move forward.
As I stated in the “Editor’s Note” above, this is the 500th column/tip I’ve authored for you — my beloved PoliceOne Members.
This milestone comes just a month shy of my four-year anniversary on the job. I’m deeply hopeful that when I write my 1,000th item — perhaps four or so years down the road — the number of officers killed in the line of duty annually will be well under what we’ve seen during my time on the job thus far.
But that will take considerable effort from all of us.
I’m in. Are you? If ever you have an idea to help your fellow officers be safer and more successful on the streets, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Write a tip. Write a column. Send me an email, or call me directly at 415-962-5922.
I’m dead-square certain that together, we can do amazing things.
After all, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for us sheepdogs to do nothing.”