Line-of-duty deaths jumped by 37% in 2010, according to the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Over the past year, I have been following the various sites and memorial pages dedicated to officers in the US who have paid the ultimate price and sacrificed everything and 2011 added another 13% to this tragic number.
There is certainly an overall rising trend of increased violence against law enforcement officials as the statistics for 2011 look even worse than those of 2010.
What is worrying is that the sharpest increase has been in gun related deaths. Sixty Eight officers were killed by gun fire.
Even though traffic-related incidents remained the number one cause of death among US law enforcement officers for the 14th consecutive year, there still is a certain amount of complacency and lack of simple precautionary measures amongst officers when dealing with any vehicle related events.
There is no doubt that budget cuts are having an impact and US law enforcement officers are being forced to do more today with much less resources. Having said this, it is essential to understand that by losing an officer on duty will effectively be less cost effective than cutting back in resources.
By putting officers lives at risk due to cut backs and lay – offs will not effectively solve the budget problem, in fact it will escalate two fold both financially and morally.
As part of an ongoing study, that we all should participate in, we should ask ourselves what are the main reasons over and above budget cuts and lack of resources?
In other Western countries the statistics of “in the line of duty” deaths is far less even on ratios comparing population numbers versus territory.
As a US first responder we should ask ourselves; Is it time to change the methods of intercepting a suspect? Is it time to allow technology to take over the car chase? Should there be a minimum of two officers in each vehicle? Should officers be allowed to sit in a restaurant or go shopping in uniform? Would the number of covert officers patrolling volatile areas assist in the long run?
Even though the best possible reform to US policing was the introduction and integration of community policing into what has become a norm and social trend, we should ask ourselves if the emphasis on community policing is taking its toll on the lives of officers that are being killed in the line of duty?
Having had the honor and privilege of working with literally thousands of US law enforcement officials over the years both as an Israeli police officer and of late as an advisor, consultant and trainer in the private sector, I have been able to evaluate the two different methods of policing so far as safety on the job is concerned.
My conclusion, even though not complete, points strongly to the fact that where Israeli first responders are, and have been under constant threat due to potential terror attacks at any given time and are certainly more aware and look for specific points of interest in their immediate surroundings; my counterparts in the United States are not as aware of the small detail that are always pro active indicators, when performing their daily patrol duties (this does NOT apply to specialized SWAT teams and or other tactical units when out on specific missions).
I disagree that there is an organized “war against cops” as reported by Jim Gold from MSNBC last year. There is no doubt that law enforcement in larger urban cities have lost their respect and due to difficult financial times these officers are perhaps even hated by many. This lack of respect surely adds to the burden of policing in a professional manner and when there is no respect then the incentive by the “bad guy” to attack is greater; be it with a weapon such as a gun or a vehicle.
In the business of saving lives and protecting property while serving our communities;
Complacency where routine is concerned is the killer.
Your input and comments to this article will help saves our fellow officers lives.
Written by Marc Kahlberg
MK International Security Consulting Ltd
For Law Enforcement Today
Pictures courtesy of D Liyanawatte/Reuters