Police Fatalities on Rise in 'Staggering' Trend; Violence against Law Enforcement Mirrors Crime Statistics

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Police Fatalities on Rise in 'Staggering' Trend; Violence against Law Enforcement Mirrors Crime Statistics


Byline: Andrea Billups, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's been a violent year for the nation's law enforcement.

Through mid-November, total fatalities were up by 30 percent over 2006, with deaths by gunshots up by 39 percent, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in the District.

"These are staggering numbers," said Craig Floyd, the group's chief executive officer and chairman. "We haven't seen numbers this high when it comes to fatalities in nearly 30 years."

The trend matches FBI statistics that show violent crime is also starting to rise after declining for 15 years.

In 2006, 44 officers were killed by gunfire, with 64 fatally shot already this year.

"What makes it particularly disturbing is we've made such great strides in the last three decades in preventing firearms deaths among officers," he said. "The statistics are alarming to say the least."

Texas leads the nation in law-enforcement officer deaths with 22. Of those, 10 officers were fatally shot. Florida was second with 13 officers who have died so far in 2007.

Particularly hard-hit has been law enforcement in South Florida, with Broward County suffering three police shootings in four months.

On Nov. 7, Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Paul Rein, 76, was fatally shot after he was ambushed while transporting a prisoner, who was serving two life terms for armed robbery, to court. The felon, Michael Mazza, tossed Deputy Rein's body from the van and sped away. Deputy Rein died later at a hospital. Mazza was apprehended about four hours later at a pawnshop.

Broward Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Reyka was fatally shot in Pompano Beach on Aug. 10, and Broward Deputy Maury Hernandez was shot in the head and nearly killed at a traffic stop Aug. 6.

Officer Jose Somohano of the Miami-Dade Police Department died in a shootout Sept. 13. …

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