Monday, July 13, 2009

Mid-Year Report: After 48-Year Low, Officer Deaths Rise 20%

After falling to their lowest level in nearly five decades in 2008, line-of-duty deaths among U.S. law enforcement officers rose 20 percent during the first six months of 2009. Still, officer fatalities remain low when compared with mid-year totals in recent history.

Preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) indicate 66 officers died in the line of duty between January 1 and June 30, 2009, compared with 55 deaths during the first six months of 2008.

If current trends continue, 2009 will be the 12th year in a row in which more officers are killed in traffic-related incidents than die from any other cause. Traffic-related incidents include automobile, motorcycle and bicycle crashes, plus officers struck while outside their vehicles.

From Blogger Pictures
Read the full report and share your comments.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NLEOMF Participates in Smooth Operator 2009 Campaign in Baltimore

NLEOMF Senior Director of Communications Kevin Morison joined law enforcement and safety officials at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore at 11 a.m., July 7, to speak about the importance of driving safely during summer travel and throughout the year, to keep citizens, and peace officers, safe on America's roads.

Read the press release below to learn more, and remember to Drive Safely and help keep our roads safe.

Campaign to Halt Aggressive Driving from Destroying Lives

Baltimore, M.D. – Faced with two consecutive years of the high percentages of fatal aggressive driving crashes in Maryland, the Smooth Operator 2009 campaign focuses on halting a major contributing factor, speeding. As summer travel begins to breed frustration on the roads, top Maryland officials and law enforcement came together to alert aggressive drivers of the costs of aggressive driving by kicking off the campaign on the helipad of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

In Maryland, more than 6,200 aggressive driving crashes took place in 2007 and 76 lives were lost as a result. In Maryland, speeding was the primary contributing circumstance for 28 percent of all aggressive driving fatalities in 2007, slightly lower than the national average of 31 percent. This equates to more than 13,050 lives lost to speeding and aggressive driving nationwide.

“One of the quickest ways to reduce the incidence of injuries and fatalities associated with aggressive driving is to slow down,” remarked Thomas Scalea, MD, FACS, Physician-In-Chief, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. “It is imperative for drivers to realize that maintaining a safe speed is a matter of life and death, and that the devastating costs associated with human loss cannot be recouped.”

While the emotional and personal loss and impact associated with crashes is incalculable, research conducted by the Inova Regional Trauma Center found that in Maryland, the hospital costs associated with all injuries – in which aggressive driving was a factor – totaled $41,166,137 per year, with an average cost of $12,566 per person.* Emphasizing the personal toll of these injuries, the average hospital stay for victims of aggressive driving is four days. Nationally, NHTSA estimates that crashes caused by speeding, a major factor in aggressive driving, cost society $40.4 billion per year, or $76,865 per minute.

As the roads heat up, law enforcement officers will be working to drive the message home to motorists to stay calm, slow down and drive safely at all times. In addition to speeding, law enforcement will be targeting and citing drivers exhibiting other behaviors associated with aggressive driving including tailgating, running red lights and stop signs, improper passing, and other maneuvers that endanger other people or property.

The Smooth Operator campaign is conducted in four separate waves, which combine increased law enforcement and public education outreach. Since the campaign began in 1997, almost three million citations have been issued to aggressive drivers. Citations in 2008 totaled more than 319,000, a little over five times the 62,000 issued since the program’s inception. The second wave currently is underway, taking place from July 5-11. With two more waves planned for the summer of 2009, this campaign is sure to reach many drivers and law enforcement is sure to issue thousands more citations across the region.

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About Smooth Operator
Eighteen Washington area law enforcement agencies launched Smooth Operator in 1997, targeting motorists who drove aggressively. By 1999, the coalition had grown to include elected officials and representatives from government agencies, private sector organizations, and law enforcement agencies from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. To enhance the annual law enforcement efforts, public awareness campaigns and research began in 2000 and formed a cooperative interstate effort that is unique among the law enforcement groups and organizations involved. Smooth Operator uses the following 3-E’s approach to tackle aggressive driving: 1) enforcement;2) education and 3) evaluation. For more information, visit

*Research published in 2004

Questions about this event?
Contact: Emily Howard/Jessica Larkin, 202-289-2001

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Law Enforcement's Multiple Death Tragedies

Chairman & CEO

The tragedy began to unfold on an Oakland street around 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. Oakland Police Sergeant Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege were both shot and killed during a traffic stop. A little more than two hours later Oakland Police Sergeants Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai would also be gunned down when the SWAT unit was called in to arrest the assailant who had barricaded himself in an apartment building.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, April 4, three Pittsburgh police officers were murdered during a domestic disturbance call. Officers Stephen J. Mayhle and Paul J. Sciullo II were both shot and killed by a 22-year-old man wearing a bulletproof vest after being let into the home by the suspect’s mother who had called for help. Officer Eric Kelly was returning home after his shift when he was called to assist with the domestic disturbance call. As he got out of his vehicle when he arrived on the scene, he was also shot and mortally wounded.

Just three weeks later, on another Saturday afternoon, April 25, two Okaloosa County (FL) deputies were murdered while trying to make an arrest. Deputies Warren “Skip” York and Burt Lopez had gone to a gun club to arrest a man in connection with a domestic violence incident earlier in the day. As they approached the suspect, he raised his gun and fired.

Three separate incidents in different parts of the country resulted in the shooting deaths of nine law enforcement professionals in just over a month’s time. It turned what had been a relatively safe year for law enforcement into one with 20 percent more fatalities during the first six months of 2009 than occurred during the same period in 2008 (66 vs. 55).

While certainly not the norm, multiple death fatalities among the law enforcement ranks have occurred throughout history. In fact, the first such incident occurred on August 3, 1808, when two officers with the U.S. Customs Service, Ellis Drake and Asa Marsh, were both shot and killed trying to arrest a powerful group of smugglers who were using the waterways to bring forbidden products into the United States from Great Britain.

According to NLEOMF records, 1,501 officers have been killed during multiple death incidents. The vast majority (1,120) were killed by felonious assault, and the others (381) died in accidental situations, such as automobile and aircraft crashes.

Read the full article
Originally published in American Police Beat, June 2009