Friday, January 20, 2017

Female Line of Duty Deaths Throughout U.S. History

One way in which the Officer Down Memorial Page works to honor fallen heroes is through researching those line of duty deaths that have been forgotten to time, leaving those deserving officers unrecognized for the sacrifices they made.

In the past twenty years, ODMP has discovered and verified more than 1,600 historic line of duty deaths (LODDs) that were previously unknown.  Because of the efforts of our researchers, most of whom are volunteers who dedicate their own time to this important cause, those forgotten heroes are now honored on the ODMP and on other local, state, and national memorials.

Two recently discovered line of duty deaths highlight a statistic that often goes undiscussed: the number of female officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.

Our research team recently discovered and honored Chief Probation Officer Lucile M. Myers of the Lake County Juvenile Probation Department (IN), who was shot and killed in the line of duty on March 21, 1926 while investigating a child welfare case.  She had served with the Probation Department for five years.

Officer Myers is only the fifth known female law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty, and she is the FIRST known to have died as the result of felonious gunfire.  The next known incident in which a female officer was shot and killed in the line of duty did not take place until nearly five decades later, in 1971.
ODMP researchers also recently discovered and added to the Memorial Page Assistant to the Deputy Warden Sandra JoAnn Bachmann of the Arizona Department of Corrections, who died in the line of duty while overseeing prisoners who were detailed as a firefighting crew during a wildfire in Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona.  She had served with the Arizona Department of Corrections for seven years.

While they make up just a small percentage of the overall total number of LODDs, it is worth noting that 316 female officers have died in the line of duty in U.S. history.  Given the fact that women were not often allowed to serve as law enforcement officers until much more recently in the history of our country, that number is not insignificant.

Already in 2017, one female officer has died in the line of duty.  In the last five years (2012-2016), 42 female officers have given their lives in the line of duty.  The FBI estimated in 2013 that about 12% of law enforcement officers in the U.S. were female.  These numbers have slowly but steadily increased over the last few decades.  Female line of duty deaths, then, is obviously and unfortunately a statistic that will continue to grow as more and more women serve in law enforcement than ever in U.S. history.

The Officer Down Memorial Page is proud to honor the lives of the women who have died in the line of duty.  We will continue to work to honor all fallen heroes and to ensure that every officer who makes the ultimate sacrifice is remembered and recognized.