By Mike Wilcox, Publisher
I’m appalled at the number of police officers that are being shot and killed these days. The job was never one for the timid, but nowadays it is the riskiest business out there. Just this past weekend, in four separate incidents, four police officers were shot.
Police deaths by shooting number 58 for 2016. They include a 28-year-old officer on her first day on the job and a 65-year-old sheriff’s corporal who was a few days from retirement. In all of 2015, 39 police officers were shot and killed.
One of the incidents occurred in the tranquil, upscale community of Sanibel Island, Florida. A police officer had just finished a traffic stop and was sitting in his vehicle along the side of the road when a drive-by shooter shot the unsuspecting officer.
In the history of Sanibel, no police officer had ever been shot. The community is considered one of the safest in the United States. It just goes to show you how on guard our police officers have to be. At any time, at any place, they can be a deranged person’s target.
Personally, I’ve got a sister, brother-in-law, nephew and several friends that work for police departments. I pray for them often because they put their life on the line for all of us each and every day.
Here’s a look at some of the officers who died in the line of duty this year:
-65-year-old Bill Cooper was responding with other officers to a 911 call at a home in rural Arkansas. The caller said a man had pulled a gun on his father. When deputies arrived, the son, wearing body armor, fired a rifle repeatedly, killing Cooper and injuring another officer.
-Sgt. Rod Lucas of the Fresno Calif Sheriff’s Office was shot dead during a chat with a detective about firearms when the detective’s gun accidentally went off.
-Sgt. Allen Brandt of the Fairbanks, Alaska police department was shot multiple times while responding to reports of gunfire. He was wearing body armor but was struck by bullets in a let and shrapnel in the eye. After the shooting the father of four spoke at a community council meeting, saying he knew someone in his family who be shot. A few days later he died from complications during surgery.
-Many of us know about the Berrien County, Michigan incident in which two officers were killed inside the courthouse. An inmate who had grabbed a deputy’s gun outside of a holding cell shot and killed Court Bailiff Ronald Kienzle, 63, and his partner, Bailiff Joseph Zangaro, 61.
-In New Mexico, Officer Jose Chavez had just arrived to help an officer with a traffic stop, when a passenger of the stopped vehicle exited and shot Chavez dead.
-In Danville Ohio, a tiny hamlet that had a total of six police officers, had Officer Thomas Cottrell fatally shot at the village’s municipal building. Minutes before Cottrell was killed, authorities said, the suspect’s ex-girlfriend called 911 and said her ex had taken off with his weapons and was looking to kill an officer.
-In Greenville, South Carolina, Officer Allen Jacobs, was fatally shot by a 17-year-old boy. Jacobs and another officer were interviewing the teen about a weapons purchase, when the teen ran. After the officers gave chase, the teen opened fire, fatally wounding Jacobs.
-In Jackson, Tennessee a Bureau of Investigation agent, De’Greaun Frazier, was working undercover, trying to buy illicit drugs from someone as they were sitting in a vehicle, when the target pulled out a gun and tried to rob Frazier. Frazier, who had only joined the TBI six months earlier, was then shot and killed by the target.
-Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer was participating in a training operation with other troopers at a Greyhound bus station in Richmond, when a man walked away from his luggage. Dermyer approached the man, and after the two talked for a few seconds, the man pulled a gun from his waistband and fatally shot the trooper.
On this Thanksgiving holiday and weekend, we all need to give thanks to the police officers that serve our communities. At a moment’s notice they could be in harm’s way. They are true heroes.