Inside This Deadly Year for Law Enforcement
On September 11, 2001, two planes hijacked by terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. On that day, hundreds of police officers volunteered to help save people who may be trapped inside the collapsing buildings. On that day, 72 officers lost their lives pulling people from the rubble. On that day, law enforcement showed American citizens what it truly meant to “run into the danger,” because it is their job.
Since 9/11 we’ve seen many examples of police “running into the danger” to save citizens, but not quite like we have this year.
In total, 137 officers have died in 2016 in the line of duty. Of those 137 officers, total of 64 were killed by gunfire, the most since 2011 when 73 officers were fatally shot. Out of those 64, at least 14 were killed in ambush style attacks.
On July 7, four Dallas police officers and one Dallas transit officer lost their lives when Micah Xavier Johnson open fired from a parking garage into the streets of downtown. Nine others were injured before police eventually neutralized Johnson using a bomb strapped to a bomb disposal robot. The event was coined, “The Deadliest Day for Law Enforcement since 9/11.”
In the early hours of July 8, Dallas Police Chief David Brown gave a press conference to local media where he explained the events of the night, those lost and those fighting in the hospitals. He also took a minute to brag on his department.
Brown explained that it was easy to determine that officers were the target of Johnson’s attack from the amount of law enforcement down from the beginning of the shooting. That didn’t matter to the hundreds of police, SWAT, deputies and FBI agents that swarmed to the scene of the crime. These officers knew they were specifically in the line of danger, yet they came. The “ran into the danger” to help civilians find a safe place, pull their brothers in blue of the line of fire and moved closer to the suspect who was keen on taking out as many members of law enforcement as possible.
I wish I could say this was the only example of this type of heroism this year.
Just ten days later, six Baton Rouge officers were shot at while responding to a call of a suspicious person. Gavin Long was seen walking around the area with a rifle. Due to open carry laws in Louisiana, the call was downplayed, but two officers responded to the scene to question him. They did not, at the time, have any probable cause to arrest.
Within two minutes of the first officers arriving shots were fired, killing one officer and wounding the other. When backup responded to help the wounded officer, Long shot and killed the responding officer and also shot the wounded officer and killed him, too. Long shot at and wounded three other officers in his ambush before he was taken down by a SWAT team member who took aim at him from about 100 yards away. The entire incident lasted less than ten minutes.
In total, 16 police officers have died as the result of an ambush-style attack in 2016, a 167 percent increase.
In addition to the disturbing growth in ambush-style attacks, officers killed while responding to suspicious persons or domestic disturbances is also on the rise.
Most recently, two officers in Americus, Georgia were shot and killed while responding to a domestic dispute at a local apartment complex. Americus police officer Nick Smarr was en route to the scene when Georgia Southwestern State University police officer Jody Smith heard radio chatter and decided to arrive on scene as backup.
When the two officers came into contact with the suspect, they were both shot in the head. Smarr tried to preform CPR on Smith before finally succumbing to his wound. Smith died hours later after being transported to the hospital.
Later that day those following the story would find out that Smarr and Smith had been best friends from high school. Smith was to be married in May of 2017 and asked Smarr to be his best man.
This deadly year for law enforcement has shined a light on what it is really like to put your life on the line every single day. These selfless officers have families, friends and pets waiting for them at home, yet they run into the danger to pull others out of harm's way.
Next time you see an officer, shake his or her hand and let them know how much their work is appreciated.
Below is a Twitter moment that lists all the members of law enforcement that lost their lives to gunfire in 2016.
Posted on Dec 20, 2016