Dangerous Job: 179 law enforcement officers have fallen in the line of duty in 2020
As of Friday morning, there have been 179 line-of-duty deaths of police officers in 2020.
That number is mind-numbing. It is greater than 50% more than any of the last five years. While the vast majority of them are China-virus related (101), it has nonetheless been a violent year for police officers serving their communities and this nation.
The latest police fatality is Cleveland Police Detective James Skemivitz, 53, who was killed in an exchange of gunfire Thursday night in the city’s Stockyards District. Limited information is available for now. No arrests have bene made at the time this article is published.
Skemivitz is the 46th officer killed in deliberate attacks this year.
In contract, there have been 661 suspects killed in confrontations with police this year. That number breaks down thusly:
Of all those police-involved shootings, only 30 have required more than routine investigation into the cause, methods and circumstances of the shootings. In those instances, the officers’ actions are in question. Eight officers, including the four in Minneapolis in the death of George Floyd, have been charged.
Though high profile in nature, the deaths of Floyd, Ray Brooks White and Jacob Blake are rare and therefore, sensationalized, especially by a media with an agenda. The reality is that white deaths under investigation far outnumber those of blacks and other races. Shooting involving white suspect total 19. Only seven are black, three Hispanic and one unknown.
It is a legitimate question as to how the few black deaths can spark nationwide unrest, rioting, arson and anarchy in numerous U.S. cities, especially those where no such incidents have occurred — Portland, for example.
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said this week that the idea of an epidemic of police officers killing black suspects is a false narrative. (Photo: CNN)
Attorney General Bill Barr weighed in on that subject earlier this week, saying it is a false narrative that black deaths at the hands of police officers is an “epidemic.”
“I think the narrative that the police are on some epidemic of shooting unarmed black men is simply a false narrative,” Barr said in a CNN appearance. “The fact is that it’s very rare for an unarmed African American to be shot by a white police officer.”
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing in July, Barr said it was perhaps "understandable" that black Americans harbor distrust towards the police, but credited that primarily to the narrative promoted by the mainstream media.
"At the same time, I think it would be an oversimplification to treat the problem as rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments," he added. "It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors, which can be addressed with focused attention over time."
The claim that police-involved shootings are on the rise is patently false. The reality that it is far more dangerous to be a police officer in the U.S. than ever before, is beyond doubt. Cleveland police revealed just as this article was being prepared to publish that another officer, shortly after Skemivitz’s death, took his own life.
The pressure is becoming too much for many officers. They are either quitting, resorting to drugs or alcohol to cope, or they are taking their own life. None of these options is acceptable for these brave men and women in law enforcement.
It is too easy to speak of these men and women as statistics. I’d like to humanize some of them for you, illustrating the sacrifice they and their families have made over these last few months.
Overland Park, Kansas, Police Officer Mike Mosher was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a hit-and-run suspect on May 3. Mosher was a 14-year-veteran of the department and left a wife and young child behind. He had witnessed the hit-and-run on his way to work, not knowing the man had a domestic violence warrant following a complaint from his family the day before. They exchanged gunfire and both died.
Louisiana State Trooper George Baker succumbed May 24 to injuries sustained on May 20th, 2020, when he was struck by a Hammond patrol car while removing stop sticks from the roadway during a vehicle pursuit. Trooper Baker and another trooper successfully deployed stop sticks, causing the vehicle to hit them. As the troopers attempted to remove the stop sticks from the roadway, A Marine Corps veteran, Baker is survived by his wife and young daughter.
Kansas Corrections Supervisor 1 Bernie Robare died March 11 after contracting COVID-19 during an outbreak amongst employees and inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Supervisor Robare had served with the Kansas Department of Corrections for 36 years. He is survived by his wife and daughter. In early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the country contracted COVID-19 during the worldwide pandemic due to requirements of their job. Many of these first responders died as a result of COVID-19.
Honolulu Police Officers Tiffany-Victoria Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama were shot and killed while responding to a stabbing call at a home on the city’s southwest side January 19. The suspect had stabbed his landlady after she had served him with eviction papers. Enriquez was shot multiple times will trying to help the stabbing victim. Kalama exchanged gunfire with the shooter, killing him but suffering fatal wounds himself. Enriquez was a U.S. Air Force Reserves veteran. She had served with the Honolulu Police Department for seven years and had previously served with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee. She is survived by three daughters and one grandson. Officer Kalama had served with the Honolulu Police Department for nine years. He is survived by his wife and teenage son.
I wish there was space to honor every one of these law enforcement officers who gave all they had to give in the service of their communities, states and nation. Readers can see the entire list, which is updated daily at here.