Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Deadliest Januaries in Law Enforcement History

In all respects, the first few weeks of 2011 were looking "good" for law enforcement. Following an increasingly dangerous 2010, line of duty deaths were actually tracking at a lower rate than in January 2010. Then the last five days happened.

Det. Amanda Haworth
Det. Roger Castillo
On January 20, 2011, Detective Roger Castillo and Detective Haworth were fatally shot and a third detective was wounded while assigned to a federal task force in Miami, Florida. Everyone thought it couldn't get any worse.

On Sunday, January 23, all hell broke loose. Two Kitsap County, Washington, deputies were shot and wounded in a WalMart parking lot. Four Detroit police officers were wounded when a man armed with a shotgun stormed a precinct station house. An Indianapolis Metro police officer is now fighting for his life after being shot in the head twice during a traffic stop, and a Lincoln City, Oregon, police officer was shot and wounded following a traffic stop on a coastal highway Sunday night.

As law enforcement nationwide was trying to understand what had occurred over the weekend they learned that the assault on our nation's protectors wasn't over. At about 7:00 am on Monday, January 24, two more of Florida's bravest police officers - Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sergeant Tom Baitinger - were slain in the line of duty, and a Deputy United States Marshal was wounded, while serving warrant in St. Petersburg.

What had started as a promising year, quickly turned into anything but. As of today, January 2011 has the  exact number of deaths as of the same time last year. At this rate, we're pacing to be above 160 deaths for the year and that is completely unacceptable. I am calling on all officers - from rookies to chiefs - to band together in what my good friend Dave Smith has coined the "conspiracy of safety."

I encourage everyone to read Dave's article on law enforcement's newest conspiracy, but I'll take the liberty to paraphrase it here in Dave's own words:
"Not today! ... By making our personal safety an immediate issue it is no longer some abstract, some statistic, or some trite saying; it is a manageable concrete situation we can pay attention to right now!"
As bad as January 2011 has been so far, it has been much, much worse in the past. The deadliest January on record was January 1931 when 22 officers were shot and killed (there were 33 total deaths that month). In fact, the most recent year that made the Deadliest Januaries by Gunfire was 1996 with 11. Let's keep it that way.

Deadliest Januaries by Gunfire:
1931: 22
1921: 21
1973: 20
1930: 19
1922: 18
1970: 18
1928: 17
1932: 17
1924: 16
1908: 13
1915: 13
1920: 13
1935: 13
1938: 13
1972: 13
1927: 12
1933: 12
1975: 12
1981: 12
1986: 12
1987: 12
1909: 11
1919: 11
1947: 11
1947: 11
1971: 11
1989: 11
1991: 11
1996: 11