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.