In the Line of Duty – Part One

Consider the stats for Canada’s Line of Duty Deaths for January 2011.

Also consider Canada follows American in terms of crime, drugs and violence.

It used to be said Canada was ten years behind the US in crime trends, meaning whatever was hitting the States would hit us Canucks about a decade later.  Crack cocaine is an excellent example.  When I was walking the beat in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in the mid to late 1990’s, crack cocaine was unheard of.  My education on the stuff existed because of our department’s drug experts (they told us it was on the way) and because of the crack epidemic south of the 49th parallel.  By the mid 2000’s, crack cocaine was everywhere on our streets.

Not to be an intentional alarmist, but the way things are now, I’m going to suggest the ten year gap has narrowed to under three.

Now consider the stats for the United States Line of Duty Deaths for January 2011.

Their 17 police officer deaths to our one is a bleak reminder of where we are headed.

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Canada lost Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Toronto Metropolitan Police Service on Wednesday, January 12, 2011, when he was struck and killed by a stolen snowplow while trying to apprehend the driver.

In the last 31 days, the United States lost officers to the following:

  • gunfire – 10
  • accidental gunfire – 1
  • motor vehicle collision – 3
  • assault – 1
  • struck by vehicle – 1
  • heart attack – 1

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Most officers I know believe knowledge of the streets and how to stay alive on them comes with experience.  Until recently, I believed the same.  Then four experienced Lakewood police officers were shot and killed in a coffee shop.

They could have been me and three of my fellow dog handlers.  We always go for coffee. One or more of us sit facing the doors.  All of us are experienced, have years of tactical training under our belts, and are used to heading towards danger when everyone else is running away from it.

Those four Lakewood officers had similar backgrounds and experience to my cadre and if it happened to them, it damned well could happen to us.

The average years of service for all officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in January 2011 was 11 years and 5 months.

At 11 years and five months I had been a dog handler for over a year.  I knew my stuff then, but I know more now and there is still more to learn.  We as police officers can never be too watchful.

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For the sake of keeping this post to a readable length, I’ll follow another officer’s lead (thank you, Lt) and continue in the next post with possible reasons of why there has been increase in police officer deaths and what we, both as officers and as citizens, can do about it.

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3 Responses to "In the Line of Duty – Part One"

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