News from PoliceOne.com
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Associated Press

ATLANTA — A warrant says an Atlanta woman put her two young sons in an oven and turned it on.

Local media reported Monday that the warrant charging Lamora Williams with murder in the deaths of 1-year-old son Ja'Karter Penn and 2-year-old Ke-Yaunte Penn says she put them in the oven sometime between midnight Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday.

A third boy, 3-year-old Jameel Penn Jr., was found unharmed.

Williams waived a court appearance Monday and was denied bail.

The father of all three children, Jameel Penn, says Williams called him by video chat Friday night to tell him his children were dead. Penn says he called police after seeing his sons on the floor.

Williams' sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, says Williams should be put on suicide watch in the Fulton County jail.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

By Astrid Galvan Associated Press

PHOENIX — Authorities in Mexico have arrested the final of seven defendants accused in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death exposed a bungled federal gun operation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga was arrested Saturday without incident and faces first-degree murder and other charges in the December 2010 killing of 40-year-old Brian Terry in Arizona. The 37-year-old is the last of the defendants in the case, including five men who have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty in federal court in Tucson. Another suspect, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, was arrested in Mexico in April, but a judge has yet to approve his extradition to the U.S.

Favela-Astorga was a member of a crew that planned on robbing marijuana smugglers when it encountered Terry and other agents who were on a stakeout in the southern Arizona desert, authorities said.

The killing unveiled the Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents allowed criminals to buy guns with the intention of tracking them to criminal organizations. But the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost most of the guns, including two that were found at scene of Terry's death.

The operation set off political backlash against the Obama administration and led the agent's family to sue.

Terry was in an elite Border Patrol unit staking out the southern Arizona desert for "rip-off" crew members who rob drug smugglers. The four-man team encountered a group and identified themselves as police in trying to arrest them.

But authorities say the men refused to stop, prompting an agent to fire non-lethal bean bags at them. They responded by firing from AK-47-type assault rifles. Terry was struck in the back and died shortly afterward.

Among those already serving time are Manual Osorio-Arellanes, who pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014, and Jesus Leonel Sanchez-Meza and Ivan Soto-Barraza, who were found guilty of murder and other charges in 2015.

A man who was not present during the shooting but is charged with assembling the rip-off crew, Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez, also pleaded guilty to murder.

Rito Osorio-Arellanes, who was not at the shooting, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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By Christopher L. McFarlin, J.D., Faculty Member, Criminal Justice at American Military University

When many police officers hear the term “de-escalation techniques” they often initially react with skepticism or even aversion. In recent years, policing has been inundated with public criticism, political posturing, and “expert” dissection of police tactics. While some of the commentary has been less than useful, there have been certain aspects of the systemic critiquing that has positively benefited policing. De-escalation is one such area.

In an article I wrote on body-worn cameras (BWCs), I emphasized the positive points about BWCs and the many benefits they provide. De-escalation should be looked at much the same way. Officers should consider the many benefits and uses for de-escalation techniques.

What is De-escalation?

De-escalation is defined as a “reduction of the level or intensity.” During every single citizen encounter, officers are working to de-escalate adverse or demanding circumstances. Whether they are issuing a traffic citation or calming down a frantic parent who has lost their child, officers are constantly engaging in de-escalation.

Some examples of de-escalation techniques include:

Slowing down an encounter by “backing off” from immediate intervention or action. Not every situation requires immediate action. This has historically been a significant lesson in the field training of new officers. Be compassionate but firm, in communicating and “defusing” a tense situation before escalation by either an officer or citizen occurs. Use discretion to the officer’s advantage. Believe it or not, there is no shame in coming back later or decreasing the enforcement action taken to enforce the law.

While de-escalation techniques are often effective, just like all tools at an officer’s disposal, de-escalation techniques are not always applicable. Active shooter training, for example, teaches law enforcement to actively seek and neutralize the threat. Should an officer encounter a suspect shooting individuals, the officer is required and expected to immediately eliminate the threat. The bottom line is that it is generally preferential for officers to attempt to de-escalate most situations when and where warranted, but sometimes a suspect’s actions do not allow for the deployment of such tactics.

How De-escalation Reduces Stress

De-escalation techniques can not only help diffuse an encounter, they can also help an officer reduce his or her stress level.

The one thing that all citizen encounters involve is some type of discourse. The Police Executive Research Forum’s recommendations for officers on de-escalation recommends many tactics, but all of them have one thing in common: They all involve discourse and communication. Whether it be spoken, unspoken, or through body language, communication is central to the policing function. Discourse is the mechanism through which de-escalation is ultimately achieved.

Engaging in effective discourse naturally de-escalates a situation, which reduces the level or intensity of the encounter. This is beneficial for both the citizen and the officer because it results in the natural physiological reduction of stress.

De-escalation Improves Community Relationships, Job Performance

Studies have shown that citizens base their perceptions of police officers off their last encounter with an officer. Communication is at the heart of all positive and negative encounters. Police officers who develop proper de-escalation techniques, use them when appropriate, and mitigate the need for force will see improved job performance. Supervisors will likely see their officers face a decrease in complaints, engage in more professional relationships, and execute higher quality investigations.

Most importantly, individual officers will reduce their chances of being assaulted, mitigate their risk of being sued, and become more effective at their job. By embracing de-escalation techniques, over time, officers are likely to see a huge return on investment in the form of increased health, life longevity, and maybe even a promotion!

Promoting De-escalation Techniques

Fortunately, more agencies are formally including de-escalation techniques in their policies. This encourages officers to use de-escalation techniques because it keeps them policy-compliant, while also helping them to mitigate stressful situations and maintain a high level of job performance.

As a trainer and educator of police officers, my daily goal is to improve the profession by improving the officers. We must first remember something we all learned when first coming onto the job: If we don’t take care of ourselves and get there safely, we can’t help someone else in need.

While de-escalation may seem like a buzzword or another temporary fad, it’s not. Officers should realize that these techniques are now a permanent part of policing. Rather than focusing on the mandatory aspects of de-escalation, officers should instead embrace the positive effects on their health and career that come from using de-escalation techniques.


About the Author: Christopher L. McFarlin, J.D. has served as a detention and law enforcement officer, a state prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, as well as a judge. Currently, he is a faculty member with American Military University’s School of Security and Global Studies. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Administration of Justice, and Civil Law. Currently, he is a commissioned reserve law enforcement officer in South Carolina, serving with his local police department in the patrol division. Lastly, he serves as a subject matter expert and guest speaker on a variety of topics pertaining to the criminal justice system. To contact the author, please send an email to IPSauthor@apus.edu.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Richard Fairburn
Author: Richard Fairburn

This month I want to tell a story about myself that fits with the overall “firearms” theme of my column, while dovetailing with my other teaching passion of police leadership.

I always try to live the example of leadership I taught for 20 years as an academy instructor, so this story is both humbling and challenging.

Two months ago I retired from the Illinois State Police Academy and signed on as the public safety director in my hometown in Illinois. My lifelong friend, who had served as the community’s police chief prior to his own retirement, had been elected mayor and convinced me to help him work the city’s police and fire departments out of a budget crisis. Time will tell if I made a wise choice.

How honesty makes a leader

This story has nothing to do with budget problems, but everything to do with me being accepted as the leader of 18 police officers, 15 career firefighters and 7 telecommunicators in the 911 center (as well as other support staff), who aren’t sure I should hold a position of authority over their agencies.

Being a firearms instructor for almost 40 years, I was bothered to find out a previous chief had switched the police department to Glock pistols without providing any transition training from the Sig pistols most officers had carried their entire career.

With the threats police officers face on the streets today, I immediately ordered ammunition and changed the department’s policy of a single 50-round qualification course per year (which met the state-mandated minimum) to quarterly shoots: one qualification to meet state law and three unscored training sessions to build the officer's survival skill set. Most police departments do conduct more firearms training/qualification sessions than required by state mandates.

In two sessions totaling 4 hours and 250 rounds of training, the officers quickly mastered the mechanics of running Glock pistols and increased their marksmanship skills, including malfunction clearing and shooting/loading on the move. They did well and universally appreciated the new focus on life-saving skills. My goal was practical firearms training, but I think I also earned some respect as their new leader. And I have always believed respect as a leader must be earned.

After finishing the first phase of the pistol training, I was hot and sweaty, but due at a city council meeting that evening. I cleaned up, changed clothes and got ready for the meeting.

My everyday carry sidearm is a Colt Lightweight Commander Model 1911 pistol custom built by Richard Heinie, one of the all-time great 1911 pistol smiths. Colt built the frame of the pistol in 1956, making it one year younger than the old fart carrying it.

I was standing on the ground in the open driver's door of my personal truck as I loaded the Commander, seating a magazine of carry ammo and chambering a round. I dropped the magazine to top it off and did my standard press-check to verify the loaded chamber. I let the slide snap forward from the press check and promptly punched a hole through the passenger door (the bullet safely dug into the dirt beside the driveway). A .45 is damn loud inside a vehicle!

The immediate follow-up sequence goes: WTF!? I can't believe I just did that. How did I do that? Go see where the bullet went.

After that, I loaded carefully, pointing at dirt. Everything seemed OK, so I figured it was a "stupid is as stupid does" moment and went to the meeting.

I remembered during the night that the hammer was at half-cock after the loud bang, which could point to a cracked/chipped sear, which would explain the negligent discharge. I've seen a couple of 1911s do that on the range and, when they do, they uncontrollably empty the magazine on full-auto. But I had the magazine out so could only get one round fired.

I’m an armorer for 1911s, so after the meeting I disassembled far enough to see the sear, which looked fine. I went to the range and fully function checked with dummy rounds first, then with live ammo. No bangs. I finally ran the sequence with my trigger finger pulling the trigger as the press check was released, the most likely cause of my screw-up. No bangs. So, what caused the BANG? Damned if I know!

I try to learn a lesson from every mistake and there are two to share from ventilating the door of my Ram 4x4:

1. Firearm safety lesson

Never, ever violate safety rule #2 (do not let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy). My old truck needs a little body work anyway, so plugging the new "mini-window" in the front passenger door shouldn't add much to the cost. Had the muzzle been pointing at one of my body parts or the neighbor’s house, the damage could have been non-repairable.

2. Police leadership lesson

Anyone can make a mistake and everyone should own up to their mistakes. After my safety check that morning on the range, my next order of business was to draft an email to everyone under my command and my boss, the mayor, with the above information. I did this for two reasons. The first is that no such event could ever remain secret for long. Second, I wanted to emphasize an object lesson that mistakes can happen to anyone who works with dangerous tools, even highly experienced operators. Following the safety rules will limit the damage to repairable items. Ownership of screw ups, I believe, is the first measure of a leader.

Lastly, the boss should not be exempt from the brutal hazing he deserves from such an event. Within an hour of the email being sent, a large band aid appeared over the hole in the door and the day shift lieutenant said he considered getting a shield out of the SWAT van before walking by my office door, just in case.

Several of my police officers and firefighters have subsequently told me in person or via email that they appreciated my honesty and ownership on this issue. I still have a long way to go in earning their trust and respect, but sometimes admitting a mistake might be the first step down that road.

In other words, if you F-up, Fess-up. Nobody’s perfect.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Mike Wood
Author: Mike Wood

I recently spoke with a police officer from an agency transitioning from a liberal weapons policy that allowed a high degree of individual officer choice to a standard issue policy, in which all officers would be required to carry the same department-issued firearm on duty. This agency polices some particularly violent areas and has a higher than average number of officer-involved shootings each year. As a result, the officers in this agency share a greater interest in firearms and firearms training than what we may see elsewhere.

The officer in question is a dedicated "1911 man," and he's in good company. Many of the officers in this department carry 1911s as they feel the dimensions, ergonomics, power and "shootability" of the design are a good match for their needs. Few of them are excited about switching to the mandated polymer pistol, which is not only chambered for a smaller cartridge, but comes with an entirely different manual of arms and very different handling qualities.

Unfortunately this is a familiar battle in law enforcement. The paramilitary nature of the profession lends to an emphasis on standardization in equipment, uniforms and training. At times this creates significant problems for police officers, particularly in regard to firearms.

In the early days, some agencies required left-handed officers to carry their sidearms on their right side to ensure uniformity. In the not-too-distant past, agencies prohibited the carry of extra ammunition on the Sam Browne for the sake of appearance, including at least one state police agency in the era of semiauto pistols.

Even today, many agencies prohibit the carriage of more than two magazines on the Sam Browne in order to promote uniformity, leaving officers who want to carry more ammo stuck with less efficient workarounds.

Pros and cons of standardization

There are advantages to standardization. Uniformity of appearance is an essential part of maintaining an organization's professional image, and it aids in promoting discipline and esprit de corps. It helps the public identify the police and it makes sense from a logistical and training standpoint to issue the same gear to everybody.

However, there are downsides. The most significant is that standardized equipment choices prevent officers from selecting the gear that works best for them. The era of gender, height and weight standards that helped make a one-size-fits-all policy more viable is over, and there's a wide range of sizes, shapes and strength in uniform these days. Such diversity means that at least some of the population face difficulty making standard-issue gear work for them.

New wave and wondernines

This conflict was quite noticeable in the mid-to-late 1980s when two trends in law enforcement clashed with each other: the rapid increase in the number of female officers and the wholesale transition away from revolvers toward semiautomatic pistols.

The most popular of the auto-loading designs adopted by police in that era incorporated double column magazines that resulted in fat grips, and heavy double-action triggers with a long reach between the backstrap and the trigger face. This combination of characteristics made it difficult for officers with small hands, short fingers and more limited grip strength (including, but not limited to, many female officers) to fire the weapons accurately, or sometimes at all.

During the 1988 U.S. military XM10 pistol trials, the U.S. Army discovered that 7 of 12 female soldiers in a test group could not fire the candidate pistols in the double-action mode due to the combination of trigger reach and weight of pull.

In a 1992 study conducted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, 50 percent of the female test subjects could not reach the trigger on 4 of the 17 test weapons, and the lower 25th percentile (in terms of hand dimensions and strength) of the test group couldn't reach the trigger on 9 of the 17 test weapons.

The data confirmed what law enforcement firearms trainers had already been witnessing firsthand – the new guns simply didn't fit many officers' hands.

While trigger reach and trigger pull weight could be an issue for some officers armed with revolvers, the fit could be more readily corrected with a variety of easily replaceable grip designs. Additionally, the art of smoothing the actions on these guns to obtain a better quality, and often lighter, trigger without sacrificing reliability had been perfected.

The new semiauto pistols of the era typically had heavier and less refined double-action triggers, and no capability to accept smaller grips to reduce the girth and trigger reach of the pistol. As such, any agency that mandated one of these pistols for duty was bound to have some officers who struggled with the equipment, and lower shooting scores often told the story.

Although semiauto pistol design has improved by leaps and bounds, and many now incorporate a limited degree of grip customization, the double column magazines favored by law enforcement can still make for a fat grip, and the trigger reach on many popular designs remains rather long.

Even if we set aside concerns about grip size and trigger reach, other equipment issues can create problems.

The location and size of controls (external safeties, magazine releases and slide locks) on the selected pistol may not work for some officers. A specific holster design may be awkward to use or painful to carry based on body shape or previous injuries. Recoil on a particular caliber may be too hard for an officer to control and make hits accurately and fast.

Any agency that tries to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach will soon discover they have a number of officers for whom the gear just doesn't work.

The need to adapt training

A similar issue exists with standardization in training. When the auto-pistol revolution hit in the 1980s, agencies scrambled to develop training standards to teach the new designs. Anyone who has conducted curriculum development understands the amount of work it takes to get a lesson plan designed, vetted and approved, and we all know our training sections are almost always short on time, money and personnel.

As such, there was a natural pull to find the "one true way" of shooting the new pistols and then force everybody to use it, rather than developing a system with flexible options to accommodate student needs.

The result was that some officers discovered they not only had to shoot a pistol that didn't fit their hand well, but they also had to do it using techniques that didn't work well for them. For example, the popular Weaver firing stance was introduced to many officers alongside the auto-pistol in the 1980s, and while it works well for many people, the isometric nature of the stance makes it highly susceptible to variations in upper body strength. Many smaller-statured officers found the stance broke down under recoil for them, and their ability to control the guns suffered in comparison to other techniques. Despite this, some agencies continued to insist on its use under the guise of standardization.

Trends like this continue in training today. At my own agency, for example, the curriculum calls for all shooters to be taught a thumbs-forward firing grip. Shooters who deviate from that script during training receive lots of "attention" from staff. The thumbs-forward grip has many advantages, but it causes a high number of premature slide locks and shooter-induced malfunctions for our officers, because the thumbs readily hit the oversized slide lock lever on the agency-mandated duty pistol during recoil.

I've been able to solve this persistent problem for many police officers by teaching them an alternative thumbs-down firing grip that keeps their digits away from the controls, and which also seems to increase the strength of the firing grip for many of our smaller-statured shooters. They sometimes catch a little flack from agency instructors who stubbornly cling to the approved script, but they're shooting better and their guns are now running reliably. In police work, that's called a "clue."

Why choice matters

There's a historical and understandable pressure on police agencies to simplify things like logistics and training, but the bane of standardization is that we're all different, and to obtain the best results, we often need to use different tools and techniques.

In regard to firearms, having a liberal policy that gives officers latitude to select a firearm that meets their needs – perhaps from an approved list of varied options – is the best way to strike a balance between agency and individual concerns. It places a greater burden on training assets to do this, but the result is a higher level of individual officer comfort and proficiency with their lifesaving equipment.

The additional monetary costs of a policy like this are easily dwarfed by improvements in officer and public safety, but there could be less obvious financial benefits as well. Consider the case where an officer whose lack of comfort or proficiency with the mandatory gun results in a negligent discharge or an intentional, but errant, shot that hits an innocent bystander. The resulting settlement could be so costly that the city or agency would have been able to outfit every officer with a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted firearm for the same amount.

A carefully crafted but liberal firearms policy is a good thing for the officer, the agency and the public. More agencies would be wise to consider it.


Monday, October 16, 2017
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Author: Mike Wood

By Ramon Antonio Vargas The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

NEW ORLEANS — The man accused of fatally shooting a New Orleans policeman early Friday managed to recover from being shocked with a stun gun to kill the officer moments later, according to documents released Saturday.

An arrest warrant for Darren Bridges, 30, on counts of first-degree murder and other offenses gives the most complete account yet made public about how authorities believe he gunned down 29-year-old Officer Marcus McNeil in the vicinity of the 6800 block of Cindy Place, in New Orleans East.

Bridges was later shot by one of McNeil's colleagues, and he surrendered to authorities rather than bleed to death in his nearby apartment, the warrant says.

The warrant cites video showing McNeil was in a blue tactical uniform identifying him as a police officer when he encountered Bridges, who was carrying a backpack investigators said they later learned contained illegal drugs.

According to the warrant, the video shows a tussle broke out between McNeil and Bridges, who brandished what is described as "a unique firearm."

McNeil and Bridges were "the only people present at the time," according to the warrant, which seemingly conflicts with earlier accounts that gave the impression McNeil was accompanied by three colleagues when police attempted to stop Bridges.

Bridges dropped his backpack during the struggle. At some point, the warrant says, McNeil fired his stun gun at Bridges and struck him, but the weapon "appeared ineffective," and the fight continued.

Several gunshots then were fired, and McNeil could be heard screaming, the warrant says. There was a pause, and then one more gunshot rang out, leaving McNeil unresponsive, with his service pistol still in his holster. He was later taken to University Medical Center, where the medical staff pronounced him dead.

Bridges then fled and crossed paths with another officer, whose name was not released. That officer shot Bridges multiple times before Bridges entered a second-floor apartment in the 6800 block of Cindy Place, using a key.

He later surrendered to police, having bled profusely on his clothes and inside the apartment. First responders took him to the hospital for treatment.

Police later searched the apartment and found the clothes Bridges was seen wearing in the video, the warrant says. The probes from McNeil's stun gun were still attached to the clothes.

Officers also found the backpack, which contained what appeared to be powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and several pills of the drug commonly sold as Xanax.

Bridges remained hospitalized Saturday, but he was booked remotely on counts of murder and possession of illegal weapons and drugs.

He faces mandatory life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of murdering McNeil, who was assigned to the 7th Police District, which covers New Orleans East.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman on Saturday ordered Bridges held without bail on the murder count. Bail for the rest of the counts added up to $375,000.

Bridges' attorney, Capital Defense Project director Kerry Cuccia, said it was too early for him to be able to comment on his client's case.

Bridges has an extensive criminal history dating back to at least 2004, including more than a dozen arrests and at least three guilty pleas.

Most recently in Orleans Parish, he pleaded guilty in 2012 to attempted possession of a firearm by a felon and received a prison sentence of 6½ years.

McNeil joined the city's police force as a recruit in 2014 and spent his entire career in the 7th District, authorities said. His survivors include his wife and two daughters, ages 2 and 5.

All Whitney Bank branches are accepting donations for a benefit fund supporting McNeil's family, police said. The account is titled the "Marcus McNeil Benefit Fund."

©2017 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Author: Mike Wood

By PoliceOne Staff

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma officer is getting high praise for his act of kindness towards a homeless man.

According to KOCO, the friend of a resident who caught the moment on camera reached out to the OKCPD singing the officer’s praises.

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Shared by FB follower Hallie: Hey OKCPD, thought you might want to know what one of your officers has been up to. Give...

Posted by Oklahoma City Police Department on Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Give this officer our kudos and our (heart emoji) if you know who he is," the resident wrote.

The OKCPD posted photos of the moment to its Facebook page. The post has garnered over 1,000 likes.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Author: Mike Wood

By PoliceOne Staff

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. – Dash cam video captured a shootout between a murder suspect and police on a highway.

According to MLive, Michigan police stopped 24-year-old Landon Harbin on Sept. 8 for driving a stolen vehicle.

Harbin emptied his magazine at officers after exiting the vehicle. Officers returned fire, but no one was hit in the exchange.

After taking him into custody, police discovered Harbin was a suspect in the killing of his mother in Alabama on Sept. 6. The car Harbin was stopped in belonged to his mother.

Harbin was charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder and one count of felony firearm possession in connection with the shootout.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Author: Mike Wood

By PoliceOne Staff

WASHINGTON – The FBI has released the 2016 edition of its annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report.

A total of 118 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year, including an uptick in the number of those feloniously killed in 2016 (66) compared to 2015 (41). Of the 59 alleged assailants identified in connection with the deaths, 45 of the assailants had prior criminal arrests and 14 were under judicial supervision at the times of the incidents.

The report also found 57,180 officers were assaulted while conducting their duties.

Felonious Deaths

Officer Profiles

The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 40 years old, with an average of 13 years of service at the times of the fatal incidents. Of the 66 officers, 64 were male, and two were female.

Circumstances

At the time the 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed:

17 were ambushed (entrapment/premeditation); 13 were answering disturbance calls (seven were domestic disturbance calls); nine were investigating suspicious persons/circumstances; six were engaged in tactical situations; five were performing investigative activities (such as surveillances, searches, or interviews); four were conducting traffic pursuits/stops; three were investigating drug-related matters; three were victims of unprovoked attacks; one was answering a burglary in progress call or pursuing a burglary suspect(s); one was answering a robbery in progress call or pursuing a robbery suspect(s); and four were attempting other arrests.

Weapons Used

Offenders used firearms to kill 62 of the 66 victim officers. Of these 62 officers, 37 were slain with handguns, 24 with rifles and one with a shotgun. Four officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons.

Accidental Deaths

Fifty-two law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2016, with the majority (26) killed in automobile accidents.

Officer Profiles

The average age of the officers who were accidentally killed was 38 years old; the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 11. Of the 52 officers accidentally killed, 50 were male and two were female.

Circumstances

Of the 52 officers accidentally killed:

26 died as a result of automobile accidents; 12 were struck by vehicles; seven officers died due to motorcycle accidents; three were accidentally shot; two officers drowned; one died in an aircraft accident; and one officer died in another type of duty-related accident.

Use of seatbelts was reported for 21 of the 26 officers killed in automobile accidents. Of these 21 officers, 10 were wearing seatbelts, and 11 were not wearing seatbelts at the times of the accidents. Of the 11 victim officers who were fatally injured in automobile accidents and were not wearing seatbelts, two were seated in parked motor vehicles at the times of the accidents.

"Every law enforcement officer goes to work knowing that today might be his or her last. But last year, we saw a staggering 61 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty because of a felony, and on average, more than 150 officers were assaulted in the line of duty every single day. These numbers are as shocking as they are unacceptable,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

“Our law enforcement deserves the support of the people they serve. Fortunately we have a President who understands this. President Trump ran for office as a law-and-order candidate; now he is governing as a law-and-order President.”

You can find the full report here.


Monday, October 16, 2017
Author: Mike Wood

By Marissa Lang San Francisco Chronicle

NAPA, Calif. — There’s a rule in evacuated parts of Wine Country: Once you leave, you can’t come back.

Police cruisers, cones and orange-and-white barricades stand between residents and their homes. Officers hold the line and answer questions from anxious homeowners.

No, you can’t go down that road, they tell them.

There’s a downed tree. A power line in the road. A fire burning just over the hill.

Most conversations end there.

Not for California Highway Patrol Officer Tracy Ross.

“Give me your phone number,” she urges them. “Tell me where you live.”

Ross, who lives in Napa, has been stationed at a cutoff road near the Silverado Country Club, which was ravaged by fire Sunday night.

The area was under a mandatory evacuation order for five days. Holdouts who refused to leave their homes were cut off from everything. They couldn’t leave to get food or to fill up their cars. Some had animals or sick relatives to care for.

In a thick notebook typically reserved for accident diagrams and crash reports, Ross jots down names and numbers. She knows who has pets and who raises cattle. She knows if someone’s relatives have been hospitalized or evacuated. And she knows where everyone who stayed lives.

All week, residents and visitors have been dropping off food and water for first responders.

On Tuesday, the second day the neighborhood was in lockdown, Ross made some food drops of her own.

She bought bags of groceries with her own money and sent her husband to fetch specialty items. She brought food to two families, cat food to another. In the afternoon, she dropped off doughnuts at the home of Matt Bishop, an attorney who owns a ranch on Monticello Road.

Bishop couldn’t ignore the irony.

“Oh wow,” he said, laughing. “I’m getting doughnuts from a cop.”

Ross, who patrols Napa regularly, said she’s gotten to know the neighborhood where she’s been posted. She knows who lives where, and she’s written notes of passage that allowed certain residents to go through the barricades.

When cell phones weren’t working and no one could find reliable information, Ross said, they would come to her and ask.

“It calms them down if you just talk to them and tell them what’s going on,” she said. “In times like this, I just treat people how I would want to be treated if it were me on the other side.”

Like many first responders here this week, Ross has all but forgotten what day it is. She got called out of bed Monday about 2:30 a.m., when the fires began engulfing the Napa and Sonoma hills. Since then, she’s been working long hours, up to 18 in a shift, blocking off roads as roaring wildfires continue to burn on three sides of Napa County.

Still, she takes time to take care of the community.

On Wednesday, when a crying mother called her cell phone saying she hadn’t seen her hospitalized daughter in three days, Ross got in her patrol car and took the woman to Queen of the Valley hospital. She waited, then brought her home.

On Friday evening, after a couple dropped off a box filled with hot, home-cooked food, Ross notified the neighborhood.

Within minutes, pickup trucks and SUVs were pulling up to her checkpoint. The residents each walked away with a foil-wrapped plate, grateful grins on their faces.

“This lady right here is the real hero,” said Kyle Bishop, Matt Bishop’s son.

Ross smiled beneath her face mask, shaking her head.

“We all have to work together and help each other out if we’re going to get through this,” Ross said. “I’m not doing anything special. Just helping Napa residents who need help.”

©2017 the San Francisco Chronicle