Sadly, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper has died following a crash this morning in Orlando.
The entire @FLHSMV family mourns today for the loss of one of our own, FHP Trooper Tracy Vickers. Trooper Vickers was a hero and leader within the patrol and his troop. We ask that you keep his family in your prayers. #FHP #EOW pic.twitter.com/4woSEWdiE5
— FLHSMV (@FLHSMV) September 27, 2019
The crash was reported around 6 a.m. on eastbound State Road 408 near Conway Road.
— Dave McDaniel (@WESHMcDaniel) September 27, 2019
Officials identified the trooper killed as Tracy Vickers. He had been with the Florida Highway Patrol for more than four years after serving in the U.S. Navy.
Sheriff Russ Gibson & the Osceola County Sheriff's Office honor FHP Trooper Tracy Vickers, who was tragically killed this morning. Trooper Vickers was employed by the Florida Highway Patrol. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Trooper Tracy Vicker's family and friends. #FHPtrooper pic.twitter.com/FtlFSSSoX6
— Osceola Sheriff (@OsceolaSheriff) September 27, 2019
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings reacted to the news Friday morning on Twitter.
“Very sad news this morning with the passing of an FHP Orlando trooper during a 408 accident. My heart goes out to the officer’s family and law enforcement family,” Demings said. “Please remember to travel safe.”
The circumstances surrounding the crash were not immediately available, but debris are scattered across the highway and video from the scene appears to show a construction truck involved as well.
— Jaclyn DeAugustino (@JaclynDeAug) September 27, 2019
Meanwhile, a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy has been shot while conducting a traffic stop, according Harris County sheriff said Friday.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted Friday afternoon about the incident, urging people to keep the deputy in “your prayers.”
The incident happened on Willancy Court near West Road.
“One of our @HCSOTexas deputies has been shot while conducting a traffic stop,” Gonzalez tweeted.
Gonzalez added the deputy was seriously injured and is being transported by Life Flight.
The circumstances of the shooting are not yet clear, but one man was seen being taken into custody. He was in handcuffs.
Shortly after that, Sheriff Gonzalez tweeted that a possible suspect was detained. They believe the scene is “contained” and poses no current threat to the community.
LET will provide updates to these incidents as details become clearer.
Out thoughts and prayers certainly go out to these officers, their families and their departments.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
In the meantime, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is mourning the loss of an officer who was on the job for 18 years.
Officer Mark Lentz of the Milwaukee police department is dead … and it’s most likely because of health-related issues from a crash in 2017.
Milwaukee Police Officer Mark Lentz died on Sept. 18. But it’s believed to be related to injuries from his on-duty crash on August 3, 2017.
According to media outlets’ 17-year-old Sirantoine Powell intentionally slammed into him with an SUV.
Police said Powell and another individual had been committing robberies on the day Officer Lentz was hit by his vehicle.
Police said that when Officer Lentz tried to pull over the accomplice driving a second vehicle, Powell slammed the SUV into the officer.
A @MilwaukeePolice procession escorting the body of Officer Mark Lentz from @mkemedexamine to a south side funeral home. Lentz, an 18 year veteran, died yesterday two years after he was struck while on his police motorcycle. Autopsy will determine if there was a link. #WISN12 pic.twitter.com/WcpOhPdzZ4
— Nick Bohr (@NickBohrWISN) September 19, 2019
After the crash, Officer Lentz was treated for “road rash and pain to his arms and legs”. He was eventually able to return to duty. But a very short time later, he started suffering from nerve damage and symptoms of traumatic brain injury, including significant memory loss and an inability to speak.
“It’s very difficult to see anyone take their last breaths in front of you,” Milwaukee Police Captain Derrick Harris said. “He was surrounded by his family and members of his unit and I believe that’s the way he wanted to leave us.”
It’s a painful loss for the department.
“It’s hard to explain why things happen to good people,” Capt. Harris added.
Brandon Rios was an old friend of Lentz and fellow Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club member. He said it was incredibly tough watching the 56-year-old officer lose the ability to ride and to do the things he loved.
“It’s rough,” Rios said. “Tough to see a guy like that go through what he did.”
Because the exact cause of his death remains under investigation, it’s not clear whether or not Officer Lenz’s death will be considered as a line-of-duty death.
Milwaukee police are lining up for a procession honoring deceased Officer Mark Lentz, who served the city for 18 years pic.twitter.com/kwdiQawCKn
— Brendan Cullerton (@BCullerton) September 19, 2019
Powell is still behind bars, but won’t be there for long. He only received a six-year prison sentence.
But that could change.
If it’s determined that the crash ultimately lead to Officer Lentz’s death, there could be additional charges.
According to the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA), Officer Lentz was “respected immensely” as a “beloved member” of the law enforcement “brotherhood”.
“You were an excellent officer and an even better man!” the MPA said. “Our deepest condolences go out to Mark’s family, coworkers, and friends. Rest in Peace brother!”
The widow of fallen Officer Mark Lentz says her husband loved being a motorcycle officer for @MilwaukeePolice. He leaves behind a son and three grandkids after he died Wednesday. She hopes his colleagues will honor him in remembering his sense of humor. pic.twitter.com/hPPkMBnU7L
— Suzanne Spencer (@suzspencertv) September 21, 2019
Officer Lentz is survived by his wife, Dayna, his son, David, and his three grandchildren along with his siblings, his father-in-law, his nieces and nephews, and many friends and extended family members.
According to the obituary, “Mark is also survived by his brothers and sisters in blue at MPD”. He’ll be laid to rest on Thursday.
A memorial fund has been created at TCF Bank for Officer Mark Lentz who passed away on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
All TCF Bank branches will accept donations for the Officer LENTZ’s memorial fund.
Funeral arrangements for Officer Lentz will be posted shortly. pic.twitter.com/WeDWTHeGyV
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) September 20, 2019
There’s a memorial fund in his name that’s been created at TCF Bank.
It seems that every day, there’s another attack on police officers across our country. That’s why Law Enforcement Today launched LET Unity. We wanted to give a voice to officers who have never been able to tell their stories.
Today, we want to leave you with the story of Texas State Trooper Dub Gillum, who was shot in the line of duty. He survived and joined us to tell his story, which can be seen here.
Dub’s is a tragic story – but also one filled with hope. With lessons. And with a dose of reality that America needs. Proceeds from LET Unity memberships go directly back into telling the stories of warriors like Dub. We hope you’ll consider signing up. The mainstream media isn’t giving them a platform. Social media is censoring them. Help us to help them.
October 1, 1998 I was on routine patrol in Hood County, Texas. And we know it’s never routine.
I stopped a wanted felon that night. I had been on patrol eight years, field training officer, martial artist, soon to become a firearms instructor, on a waiting list for the governor’s protective detail.
I was gonna move upward and onward. Trained every day… ran every day. I had just broke loose my rookie of six months and I handled nights by myself.
I stopped a reckless vehicle driving 85 in a 55. He stopped in the middle of the road. It was about 8:15 p.m.
Like I said, I had just broke a rookie loose – I told him how to do it, how to approach on the driver side or the passenger side, different tactical ways to do it. I go walking up to the vehicle and he rolls down his window, leans out the window, says:
“What’s the problem, officer?”
Then he shot me 10 times.
10 times in 2.8 seconds.
How’d I get shot? I’m an eight-year veteran – that’s a long time in law enforcement.
First shot caught me in the forehead, parted my hair, went through my hat. You know us troopers and our hats – I got a brand new one right there. Took me a couple of months to get that hat – but the first shot ruined that hat and it’s hard for me to talk about.
Second round caught me in the left temple. Bullet went through the left eye, exploded, blew out my right eye. That’s two.
Three, four, five, in the forearm.
Six, seven in the hip.
Eight, nine, ten in the back.
I was wearing my vest. It happened in 2.8 seconds.
The man who shot me was a wanted felon. Should been in prison three times over. Had a sorry judge who kept letting him out. He had assaulted other police officers – I wasn’t the first. He was one of those what we know as the one-percenters. He drives off. I laid in the roadway. They got me to the hospital.
I stayed in the hospital for a couple of weeks, was off work for 14 months.
Besides getting shot, one of the worst days was when the doctor – head of a medical facility, he was the head of ophthalmology, he said, “Well, you’ll be blind the rest your life – you can sell pencils for a living,” which is what the School for the Blind in Texas does.
So I fired him. Got another doctor. What the hell do doctors know, right?
I had another rookie trooper coming in December. I had to be back to work. So I was off work a little longer and I went through ten surgeries.
I’m blind in the right eye, I can’t see crap out of the left – scares a lot of people that I still carry a gun and drive black and white. But after 10 eye surgeries, I see on a good day 20-30 in the left eye… I can see pretty good out of the right eye too. One day I may see fully out of them.
If you notice my eyes – one eye is a little different than the other, because I lost my iris and it’s all pupil. When I go to the schools I love it when kids say:
“Hey, you got two different colored eyes?”
I say “yeah”.
And they always follow up with:
“I got a dog with two colored eyes.”
“I am just a different breed of dog.”
But off work for 14 months, I did a lot of soul searching and a lot eye surgeries to get me back to doing this job. And I always told my wife that if I ever got my eyesight well enough, I’d go back to patrol. Then I wake up a day later, a knot on the back of my head.
But being off duty that time and not sure I was gonna recover my vision .. and when I did, DPS created a position for me in Granbury being the safety officer, training officer and public information officer.
And so I’ve continued to do that for the past 20 years, and so I teach officer safety.
I’m not alone. My story is not unique.
It is, but it isn’t.
And yes it’s unique, but no it’s not because these are the men and women in our law enforcement and our firefighters and our military that serve this country and walk the blue line that we’ve talked about.
One of the classes I teach is “Below 100”. The concept behind one Below 100 is we haven’t had a year where we’ve lost less than 100 police officers in the line of duty since 1943.
If you go back over the last five years alone we lose one hundred and fifty, hundred and sixty, hundred seventy officers a year. Many of those are the gunfire, aggravated assault, attempted murder…
Many of those tenants in Below 100 :
- Wear your vest.
- Wear your seat belt.
- Slow your speed down.
- What’s important now?
- Complacency kills.
These are five tenants of the Below 100. And I teach course on mindset where we talk about presumed compliance and complacency because I can tell you I was complacent that night.
We all get complacent. I was an eight year veteran. Whether you’re a rookie at the academy or a seasoned 28-year troop, complacency affects every one of us. It may affect us whether we know it or not.
I want to share a little analogy with you. We refer to ourselves as the sheep dog – we all know that analogy.
We stand guard over the sheep. We protect them from the wolf.
But you know the sheep are just as afraid of the sheep dog as they are the wolf, because when you think about the sheep dog – they keep the sheep in line. They nip at their heels and the sheep are nervous around them.
Why don’t we further ourselves now to a different comparison? How about the shepherds? Because the shepherd cares for his flock… not only from the wolf, but he meets their needs. It’s what we do.
We’re not just a protector from the wolf, the predator, to protect the prey. Because in America, Americans and police officers and our military… sometimes we have to put down the predator.
But then we also turn around and render first aid when the need arises. When our predators are out there in need, law enforcement steps up at times to help them out because we wear many hats.
Whether it’s a psychologist, a mother or a father. Words of wisdom… a mentor. We’re doing the shepherd’s work. So I encourage us to now refer to us as “shepherd”.
It’s going to be tough. Teach old dog new tricks … old sheep dog new tricks… because that’s what we do.
But we’re also shepherds, and I think that will build and elevate us within the community as the sheep look to the shepherd and not just to the sheep dog.
You know when we lose a police officer, it’s not just an agency – it’s the entire United States.
It hurts all of us.
And so we have to train better and be ready.
God bless America.