Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The line-of-duty death toll for July is 13, breaking a string of five months in the single digits. In spite of that awful number, LODDs are still down an amazing 47% compared to this time last year. Now seven months into 2012, the national LODDs total is 62. This time last year, the number was 115. That’s 53 officers who made it home and 53 fewer families who didn't have to suffer the awful trauma of losing a loved one.
Only two of the LODDs during July were gunfire incidents. The remaining eleven were vehicle-related deaths, an area that has taken far too many lives for far too long. Vehicle-related deaths and injuries is the area where we have the greatest opportunity to improve and prevent tragedy. This is why Below 100 efforts place a significant emphasis on safety basics like wear your belt, wear your vest and watch your speed.
On behalf of Law Officer, I extend our most heartfelt condolences to every coworker, family member and agency that has experienced a line-of-duty loss. Here are summaries of our losses during the month of July, listed in order of occurrence:
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Leopoldo Cavazos Jr., 29, died as a result of injuries sustained in an ATV crash while patrolling a remote area of the Texas/Mexico border.
Millville, N.J., Police Officer Christopher Reeves, 40, died when his patrol car was struck by a vehicle fleeing other officers. Another officer in the car was seriously injured.
Philadelphia, Pa., Police Officer Brian Lorenzo, 48, was killed when a wrong-way intoxicated driver slammed into his department motorcycle in the early morning hours.
Lumberton, N.C., Police Officer Jeremiah Goodson Jr., 32, was off-duty when he spotted a subject wanted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He notified the PD and, when another officer arrived, they approached the vehicle. Goodson was shot in the chest as he neared the car. The suspect was arrested by other officers at the scene.
Cook County, Ill., Correctional Officer Nikki Bostic-Jones, 38, died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking from the sheriff’s parking lot to the maximum security wing. The impact pushed her into the path of an oncoming sheriff’s patrol car. The driver of the hit-and-run vehicle was arrested several days later.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent James Dominguez, 41, was struck and killed while assisting a stranded motorist near Cline, Texas. He was picking up tire debris when he was struck from behind by a large pickup truck.
Honolulu, Hawaii, Police Officer Chad Morimoto, 39, died when he lost control of his department motorcycle during escort training.
Colorado Springs, Colo., Police Officer Matthew Tyner, 42, was performing traffic enforcement on his department motorcycle and attempting to make a stop when a truck turned in front of him. He died as a result of injuries suffered in the collision.
Westfield, Mass., Police Officer Jose Torres, 27, was struck and killed by a dump truck while directing traffic at a construction site.
Watauga County, N.C., Sheriff’s Deputy William Mast Jr., 23, was shot and killed when he responded to a report of an open-line 911 call. Deputy Mast was approaching the residence when the suspect shot him in the face. Another deputy returned fire, killing the suspect.
U.S. Postal Inspector Preston Boyd Parnell, 46, died as a result of injuries suffered in a serious multi-vehicle crash during 2007. He suffered a serious head injury and his neck was broken, ultimately resulting in his death.
Waxahachie, Texas, Police Officer Josh Williams, 44, died as a result of a collision that occurred while responding to a disturbance call. He was turning into a parking lot when his vehicle was struck on the passenger side by an SUV being operated without its lights. The driver was intoxicated and was arrested after being treated for his injuries.
Milwaukee County, Wis., Deputy Sheriff Sergio Aleman, was killed when the patrol truck he was driving crashed into the rear of a flatbed tow truck on I-43 Southbound.
It must be said again and again that cops don't have to die in the numbers that we continue to see. Some of these deaths were absolutely preventable and that just makes the loss all the more tragic.
We can't afford to simply move on and accept these losses as a cost of doing business. Each and every one of these officers will be forever mourned by their affected families and departments. The manner of their death doesn't lessen the pain of the loss. We must be willing to objectively and constructively examine each loss and determine how we can prevent future deaths.
It's time to hold each other accountable and speak up when we see others taking unnecessary chances or failing to use safety equipment like seatbelts and body armor. We can drive down this horrible number that causes such devastation in the lives of so many. The officers listed above left behind 12 spouses, 28 children and 3 babies who will be born after they're buried.
I strongly encourage every officer and every family member to embrace the tenets of Below 100. This simple initiative is already saving lives. Check out the Below 100 program
The life you save may be your own!
- Wear your belt.
- Wear your vest.
- Watch your speed.
- W.I.N.: What’s Important Now?
- Remember: Complacency Kills!