Photo Dale Stockton
FEATURED IN BELOW 100
Thirteen officers died during the month of September, bringing the toll for the year to 89 officers. That’s a terrible and tragic number, but it's miles better than where we were last year at this time! On October 1, 2011, 140 officers had lost their lives. In other words, we’re currently down 33% from this time last year.
We owe it to every fallen officer to learn from the circumstances of their death so that others may live. As tough as it may be, we all have a responsibility to improve officer safety, both individually and across the profession.
Let's remember and honor those who have died in the line of duty during September. On behalf of everyone at Law Officer, I extend the most sincere condolences to the coworkers, families and departments who have suffered a loss.
Of the thirteen officers lost, six have died in vehicle-related incidents, four were killed by gunfire, two died from heart attacks and one was stabbed.
In order of occurrence, here are the losses for September:
Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, 37, California Highway Patrol, was shot while assisting another officer on a traffic stop. The assailant was shot by the second officer. Youngstrom died the next day.
Corporal Charles B. Licato, 34, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland, died in a single vehicle crash during the early morning hours. He had been heading home after his shift ended.
Trooper Bobby Gene Demuth, 42, North Carolina Highway Patrol, was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by a kidnapping suspect while deploying a tire deflation device. Trooper Demuth is the 26th law enforcement officer to die while deploying a TDD.
Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, Jupiter, Florida, Police Department, was killed in a vehicle collision while assigned to a presidential motorcade. He was closing access to the highway from an on-ramp when he was struck by a pickup truck.
Officer Patrick O’Rourke, 39, West Bloomfield, Michigan Police Department, was shot and killed after entering a home with other officers on a report of domestic violence with shots fired. The officers called out the suspect’s name while outside a bedroom and were met with gunfire. O’Rourke was transported to a hospital but later died from his wounds.
Det. Sergeant James G. Hoopes, III, 40, New Jersey State Police, suffered a fatal heart attack while engaged in a department physical fitness program.
Sergeant Ian Loughran, 43, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland, died of a heart attack after attending the funeral of Corporal Charles Licato (listed above).
Officer Bradley Fox, 34, Plymouth Township Police Department, Pennsylvania, was shot during a search and foot pursuit of a suspect who had been driving a stolen vehicle. Officer Fox and his K9 partner, Nick, were searching for the suspect when he suddenly emerged from a hiding place. Officer Fox was killed and K9 Nick was wounded. The suspect then committed suicide.
Officer Mark Taulbee, 43, Hodgenville Police Department, Kentucky, was killed in a single vehicle crash while chasing a domestic violence suspect. The pursuit reached high speeds and Officer Taulbee lost control of his vehicle and crashed.
Officer Jason Gresko, 32, Willoughby Police Department, Ohio, was responding to an emergency call when he collided with a pick-up truck and then struck a tree. He later succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.
Sergeant Mary Ricard, 55, Colorado Department of Corrections, was stabbed to death in a kitchen area during breakfast by an inmate who attacked her and another female sergeant. The other sergeant was seriously wounded in the attack.
Deputy Sheriff Christopher Schaub, 47, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Florida, was killed when his police motorcycle collided with another vehicle at an intersection in Pompano Beach.
Officer Colvin Georges, Virgin Islands Police Department, Virgin Islands, died as a result of gunshot injuries suffered when he and another officer approached a group that was loitering in an area where a shooting had previously occurred. The shooting paralyzed him from the neck down and he was transported to a hospital in Miami but died four months later.
These fallen officers leave behind 11 grieving spouses, 26 children and one baby yet to be born.
In spite of our losses, we must continue our efforts to change law enforcement culture and embrace both common sense and safety equipment. Even with the short summaries shown above, it's clear that many of these deaths could have been prevented. We know there are officers alive today because they have made the decision to wear their seat belts, wear their armor and drive at speeds reasonable for the circumstances. We have the evidence in real lives saved to prove it. It’s up to each of you of you to do your part. Have the courageous conversation with officers who are pushing the limit. Model good practices like wearing body armor and using reflective vests. We must improve overall safety awareness among officers. That means practicing common sense in all areas so we can send more officers home to their families instead of to funeral homes.
Remember: Below 100—the time is now! www.Below100.com.
Note: We rely on ODMP (www.odmp.org) for the official numbers and summaries that result in our monthly end-of-watch reports. I strongly encourage you (especially trainers!) to visit their site because so much can be learned from the LODD summaries that are provided.