POLICE Magazine

FEB 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1077915

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Page 6 of 60

4 POLICE FEBRUARY 2019 IT'S NOT HARD TO FIND INFORMATION on the number of law enforcement officers who are killed in the line of duty. Each year the National Law Enforcement Officers Memo- rial Fund (NLEOMF) sends out a press release that an- nounces the number. In 2018, the number was 145, and of that number 53 died by gunfire. e NLEOMF number for LODDs is unofficial, but it's usually pretty accurate. You'll have a much tougher time coming up with any accurate statistics for the number of officers wounded in 2018. A year or so from now the only official report on the of- ficers who were killed and wounded in 2018 will be made public when the FBI releases its annual LEOKA. e LEO- KA (law enforcement officers killed and assaulted) report is the only official accounting of violence against your profession and even the people who produce it will tell you that it woefully under counts the "assaulted" side of the ledger. at's no slam on the folks who produce LEO- KA; they are at the mercy of the data they have available. It's easy to count the dead because agencies have to file all kinds of reports about duty deaths, but the statis- tical picture gets a lot muddier when we discuss the wounded. Often wounds are not reported even by the people who experienced them. I have two veterans in my immediate family, one from World War II (now deceased) and one from the Vietnam War. Both received what they considered minor wounds in combat; neither one reported their wounds. Counting the wounded in police operations is difficult. But I think it's very important that we start to do a better job of it. People tend to think that all the violence that oc- curs against police officers can be counted in the death total. at totally discounts the sacrifice of those men and women who were wounded in the line of duty. And I be- lieve their ranks are growing at an alarming rate. January was a bloody month for American law enforce- ment. By my unofficial count of articles on PoliceMag. com, four officers were feloniously killed last month. Us- ing the same methodology, I count 12 law enforcement of- ficers wounded in the same period. Many accounts of attacks against officers end with the line that the officer suffered non-life-threatening wounds. at's a very vague term. You can be severely wounded and not suffer injuries that would threaten your life if you re- ceive timely and appropriate medical care. e murkiness of the term comes from the wide spec- trum of possible wounds. You can be shot and receive a grazing wound that the reporters discount despite the fact that none of them would volunteer for the experience. Or you can be shot and be paralyzed, or brain damaged, or have internal organ damage. And even one of those non- life threatening gunshot or stab wounds can result in a lifetime of chronic pain. e truth is that it can be difficult to kill someone with a handgun or knife in 2019. Emergency medicine is really ef- fective these days, even when someone is shot in the head. And because of that emergency medical care many an of- ficer has survived critical wounds. Many of these grievously wounded officers have ex- hibited great courage and determination in trying to re- build their lives. Consider the case of Ar- nold, MO, police officer Ryan O' Connor. In December 2017, Officer O'Connor was transporting a burglary suspect when the man somehow managed to gain access to a pistol and shot the officer in the back of the head. Officer O'Connor was not expected to survive that terrible wound. But he did. And with the support of his wife, his family, his friends, and the national law enforcement commu- nity, he is working every day to rebuild the life that was nearly taken from him. Officers like Ryan O'Connor are why we need a better accounting of the men and women in law enforcement who are wounded on duty. e statistics on the fallen are not enough to provide the public with a portrait of the real sacrifice of the men and women who wear the badge. Reporters and columnists use this incomplete portrait to point out that there are much more dangerous professions. Worse, they tend to discount the malicious nature of the damage inflicted on officers by referring to men and women who were intentionally wounded as "injured." Each May we hold a ceremony to honor law enforce- ment officers killed in the line of duty. Maybe it's time we also held a ceremony to honor those wounded on duty. We need a better accounting of the number of officers who are maliciously injured on duty. DAVID GRIFFITH David.Griffith@PoliceMag.com Maybe it's time we hold events to honor officers wounded on duty. THE WOUNDED EDITORIAL PHOTO: KELLY BRACKEN

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