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The Tentacle


February 16, 2011

In The Line of Fire…

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Less than a month after it was reported on TheTentacle.com that deaths of on-duty law enforcement officers in 2010 spiked, comes the news that 11 police officers were killed in the line of duty in January.

 

To refresh your memory, in “Remembering Those in Harm’s Way – published December 29, 2010, the column carried the haunting news that “a total of 160 law enforcement officers nationwide died in the line of duty during 2010, according to the report by the NLEOMF, [National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund] follow(ing) a two-year decline and comes on the heels of 2009 which saw a 50-year low of 117 police officer fatalities.”

 

In a disturbing news account, on January 25, 2011, Fox News reported that 11 police officers were shot in January – in just 24 hours – nationwide, “Authorities are worried a recent wave of police officer shootings may not be a coincidence…”

 

“According to National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, an organization that tracks police casualties; there have already been as many officer deaths in January 2011 as there were in January of last year. The organization reported that officer deaths were up 43 percent in 2010 compared to 2009,” Fox reported.

 

In an article carried in the law enforcement magazine, Police Patrol, on January 24, the chilling details are brought more to life:

 

“On Monday, three officers were shot — two fatally wounded, and one injured — while serving an aggravated battery warrant at a home in St. Petersburg, Fla. On Sunday, four officers were shot at a Detroit Police precinct; two Kitsap County (Wash.) Sheriff's deputies were shot at a Walmart while responding to a call reporting a suspicious person; and police officers in Indianapolis and Lincoln City, Ore., were critically injured in shootings during traffic stops.

 

“As of Jan. 24, officer fatalities have been recorded in eight states, including multiple deaths in Florida (5), Texas (2), and Ohio (2). Florida and Texas were among the top five states leading officer deaths in 2010 (along with California, Illinois, and Georgia).”

 

The Fox News account goes on to quote Richard Roberts, a spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, who told MSNBC.com: “There's a perception among officers in the field that there’s a war on cops going on.”

 

Although I have not heard that view specifically expressed in conversations with police officers in the last year or so, I have perceived a heightened level of anxiety for their safety.

 

One cause of concern may be the continuing economic malaise that has put extra pressure on state and local government budgets. One of the untoward results of the budget turmoil has been cutbacks in the budgets of law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services.

 

In spite of the obvious danger of the increased pressure on police to do more with less, there does not seem to be a direct cause and effect that may be determined from the lack of support from the budget number crunchers and the increased number of police deaths.

 

That said, there is no such thing as getting more from less – you get less from less. A point lost on many politicians these days, who seem to have no problem increasing taxes and the size of government for feel-good social-welfare programs, yet overlook the basic safety needs of the community.

 

Of course, creating bureaucracy – and full employment for bureaucrats – is what government does best. And always remember, the underlying principle for bureaucracy is the belief that all law-abiding citizens are the real criminals; the purpose of bureaucracy is to prove it.

 

As more state and local governments are talking a good game about cutting back unnecessary big-government bureaucracy in response to reduced budget revenues, what has been lost in the conversation is that you cannot have a thriving, vibrant or meaningful community without adequate and appropriate police and fire protection.

 

One cause for concern may be found in the Fox article which detailed the police deaths in January. In too many cases, the individuals, who are alleged to have killed police officers, had extensive criminal records, some dating back decades; yet, they were still allowed to continue to avoid serious consequences for their criminal behavior and were on the streets preying on the public – and killing the very people who protect us.

 

Writing for USA TODAY, Kevin Johnson reported on January 26 that the U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to look into the spike in police deaths.

 

“Bernard Melekian, the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services director, said analysts would study whether deficits in training, resources or officer behavior may have contributed to a troubling series of violent attacks in at least five states,” reports Mr. Johnson.

 

“I think it is too early to tell if there is an underlying theme here,” Melekian said January 8. “The fact is that police work is an inherently dangerous business; very often you don't know where the danger is coming from.”

 

Of course, most law enforcement officials will not say it publically, but many are not holding their breath in hopes that the bureaucratic approach of Obama Administration’s hyper-politicized, community-organizing oriented Justice Department will be of any help whatsoever.

 

Also of note is the fact that on the same day much of the news about police deaths was making its way around the nation, The Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter reported: “The Justice Department has launched a preliminary review of the Seattle Police Department to determine whether its officers have engaged in a pattern of unnecessary force… The federal review is in response to a request last month by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) and 34 other community groups that asked the Justice Department to investigate police use of force in several recent high-profile incidents…”

 

Perhaps that’s the answer? The next time you believe that your property or your life is in danger, call the ACLU.

 

. . . . . I’m just saying…

 

kevindayhoff@gmail.com

 



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