Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Line of Duty Deaths in the 21st Century

The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP) maintains an extensive database with information on the more than 22,000 law enforcement line of duty deaths (LODDs) in United States history.  This data, though, is only useful if it is analyzed and publicized so that people can understand how, where, and when line of duty deaths most often occur.

With this thought in mind, ODMP director Chris Cosgriff set out to create a visual representation of our most recent LODDs---those that have taken place since 2000---with the hope that law enforcement agencies, training academies, and other groups will display it, share it, and learn from it.

Says Cosgriff, "The ODMP infographic showing line of duty deaths in the US from 2000-2014 gives a stark look at the dangers and truths of modern law enforcement, and illustrates in simple terms the sacrifice that law enforcement officers make.  Looking at these statistics, it is clear that line of duty deaths can happen to any officer--young or old, rookie or veteran.  It's vital that we use our information to educate the public and law enforcement officers alike on the real dangers that exist today." 

With this information, ODMP hopes to raise awareness so that the public can truly understand the dangers that law enforcement officers face and so that officers can adjust their tactics, driving habits, and so on in order to improve their own safety.

This poster is available as a free download on the Officer Down Memorial Page website.  It is printable up to sixe 13x19.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Georgia Teen Runs To Support Law Enforcement

MacKenna Gosart, a 13 year old runner from Georgia, is proving that age is not a factor when it comes to supporting the law enforcement community.

Gosart, who runs cross-country for her school, spent the month of January 2015 running one mile for each law enforcement officer who died in the line of duty in 2014 -- a total of 118 miles for the 118 officers whose watch ended last year.  She was inspired by her father, who works in law enforcement in Clayton County (GA), when she heard him discussing the line of duty deaths with a friend.

When family and friends learned about MacKenna's tribute, they wanted to help too.  Pledges and donations came in from all over, and by the end of the month, MacKenna had raised $11,000.  She donated that money to ODMP partner Armor of God, a non-profit organization that provides ballistic vests to law enforcement officers whose departments cannot issue them to every officer, and who often cannot afford the costly item on their own.

Clint Reck, the founder and director of Armor of God and a Captain with the Muscle Shoals (Alabama) Police Department said he was amazed and speechless when he got the call from MacKenna's father.

"I truly believe there are two things that will never change in Law Enforcement. The first is our mission to protect and serve our communities and fellow citizens -- a mission that has grown more dangerous each and every day," says Reck.  "The second is our commitment to working as a team to accomplish that mission. It is amazing for a teenager to be so focused on helping law enforcement officers across the country stay safe."

With the money from MacKenna, Reck says that Armor of God has already been able to send over 100 vests out to officers in need -- an average of 20 vests each week. The funds also helped cover the cost of shipping a large number of vests donated by the High Point (North Carolina) Police Department.   In addition, MacKenna's donation enabled Armor of God to incorporate and file for their 501(c)3, making their status as a non-profit official.  They've also started work on the creation of a new website that will streamline the process through which officers request and donate vests. 

And now, the Officer Down Memorial Page is proud to count MacKenna Gosart as a member of the National Police Week 5K  Virtual Team.  The NPW5K, hosted by ODMP, takes place in Washington DC during National Police Week in May each year. 

Since MacKenna will still be in the middle of her cross-country season, she can't make it to DC.  Instead, she'll be running a virtual 5K in Georgia, and helping, once again, to raise funds to support law enforcement.

MacKenna ran her first 5K with her dad when she was about seven years old.   "It wasn't a great showing, but it was a start to a great running journey," she says.  "When I run, I can escape from any stress or pressure that is bothering me, and it just makes me feel good. The race bling is an added bonus!"

And just how much does she run?  MacKenna says, "I run about 25-30 miles a week if I'm in training, but no less than 3 miles, 6 days a week during the off season. I'm not sure exactly how many races I've run, but if I had to guess, I'd say I've run about thirty 5Ks since I was seven.  I also run 10K and 15K races, and I'm going to run a 10-Miler and 1/2 Marathon this fall."

When asked what made her want to use her talent to support law enforcement, MacKenna said, "There are so many people in this world that don't realize what our men and women in blue do for us every day. They work long hours, for little pay, and it's a dangerous job. My dad has been in law enforcement for 6 years and I've seen the effects of this daily task. These courageous officers deserve so much more respect than what they get.  I just thought I could help."

ODMP is proud to have MacKenna on our Virtual 5K team. 

If you'd like to donate to MacKenna's fundraising page, click here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gunfire Line of Duty Death Ends Historic Stretch

Between December 28, 2014 and March 3, 2015 -- a span of 66 days -- there was not a single felonious gunfire death of a law enforcement officer in the United States.

The Officer Down Memorial Page regrets to report that that streak has ended with the tragic Line of Duty Death (LODD) of Police Officer Terence Green of the Fulton County Police Department, Georgia.  Officer Green, a 22-year veteran of the Fulton County PD, was shot and killed in an ambush early this morning.  Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and fellow officers.  

The historic stretch of 66 days since the last gunfire line of duty death was the longest such stretch in the US since 1880.  It also occurred in conjunction with the first calendar month in 116 years to have only a single line of duty death; in February 2015 only one officer died in the line of duty when Officer Siegfried “Dove” Mortera suffered a fatal heart attack during a SWAT training exercise.  The last time a full month passed with a single LODD in the US was January 1899.  

The combination of these two events--a 66-day stretch of no gunfire LODDs coupled with a full calendar month with a single LODD -- is unprecedented.

Each year, law enforcement officers die in the line of duty while performing their job to protect and serve the American people. Since 1944, not a single year has passed with fewer than 100 line of duty deaths.  The number of law enforcement officers who died in this country between 2000 and 2014 stands at 2,346.  It is a job of inherent risk, and, all too often, tragic and unnecessary loss of life.

The Officer Down Memorial Page tracks LODD statistics in the hopes that analysis of trends and data will enable a better understanding of how to keep officers safe.  We also partner with initiatives such as Below 100, an organization that aims to “permanently eliminate preventable line of duty deaths and injuries through innovative training and awareness”.  It is our hope at ODMP that each name added to the site will be the last. Until that day comes, though, we are committed to honoring those souls who have made the ultimate sacrifice and working to make law enforcement officers safer across the board.

While it is very early in the year, 2015 is showing some promising trends: Line of Duty Deaths are, overall, down 6%, despite a deadly January.  Auto-related deaths hold steady at eight -- the same as at this point in 2014-- despite dangerous winter weather conditions in many parts of the country that often lead to increased vehicular LODDs.  And despite today’s sad ending to a historic stretch of no felonious gunfire LODDs, gunfire deaths are down 75% over this time last year--an encouraging trend indeed.