Friday night we ran a story on Hannity about police officers under attack. You can watch it here.
As we have traveled the country we noticed that while violent crime overall is going down-- the number of violent crimes against law enforcement seems to be going up.
There was the case of 3 officers who were shot and killed in Pittsburgh last April and 4 officers gunned down in Lakewood, Washington before their shift started, as they sat in a coffee shop. After some research, we learned the statistics show that our suspicions were accurate and it is something for which we need to be concerned.
The very officers working our neighborhoods, fighting crime and keeping us safe -- are becoming targets. These mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and Americans are putting their lives on the line for you and me -- and being punished by criminals. Yes, our streets are safer, but our officers are not.
Sadly, since the piece was completed on Thursday night, more officers have been targeted. As of today (Feb 1st), officer fatalities are up 31% since last year. And, officers killed by gunfire (6 in January alone) up 500%. All of the following has happened since we finished editing our story Thursday night:
* A Buffalo, NY police officer was shot today while responding to a hostage situation.
* A Phoenix , AZ area officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop
* A Spalding County GA Sheriff's deputy is in critical condition after being shot in the face
* ACharleston County South Carolinasheriffs deputy was shot six times while investigating a burglary
* A Fairfield, NJ officer is in critical condition after being shot multiple times,
* A Jefferson County, MO Sheriff's Deputy was shot while investigating a burglary
* Two LAPD officers responding to a shooting were injured when a nearby crowd threw rocks and bottles at them
* Two off-dutyCalifornia Highway Patrol officerswho stopped at the scene of a trafic accident to lend assistance were attacked by the people involved in the accident (the men were drunk and did not want the police involved).
If you look at the numbers....violent, intentional crimes against officers are going up at an alarming rate. In 2009, 48 officers were shot to death-- compared to 39 in 2008. That's an increase of 23%. If you break it down, that's nearly one officer killed each week last year and those are just the ones who dont make it.
Paul Weber, with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, says we need to worry. He says the suspects don't care about killing officers and are even willing to move toward a fallen officer and continue shooting after he or she is down. In fact, it's become such a dangerous job, some police forces are training their law enforcement teams on how to handle violent attacks and what to do if they are shot.
We interviewed one of those trainers, Sgt. Ken Hogan. He worked for the Irvington, New Jersey Police Department and speaks from experience. Fifteen years ago he came face-to-face with death. A suspect walked up to his car with a loaded 9 mm and fired multiple shots through Sgt. Hogan's windshield and side window in a deliberate attempt to murder him. Sgt. Hogan was shot multiple times point blank. The pictures were so graphic... it was hard to imagine how he survived. He was shot in the shoulder, spine and head and lives with the obvious scars (which you'll see if you watch the story). Sgt. Hogan says despite the danger, he still loves the job.
According to theNational Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation: On average, onelaw enforcement officeris killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1792, nearly 19,000 U.S.law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.
2009 was a tale of two trends in law enforcement fatalities in the United States . Preliminary data from theNational Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fundshow that officer deaths declined6 percent, from 133 in 2008 to 125 in 2009. That is the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 1959, when there were 108. HOWEVER: the number of officers shot and killed surged 26 percent, from 39 in 2008 to 49 in 2009. More than 30 percent of this years shooting fatalities15 in alloccurred in five separate incidents in which more than one officer was gunned down by a single offender.
As for the officer killed inArizonathis week: Lt. Eric Shuhandler, 42, pulled over 2 men near the southeast Phoenix suburb of Gilbert at about 11 p.m. on Thursday.
Shulhandler, a 16-year veteran, was shot in the face as he walked back toward the pickup after finding the passenger had anarrest warrant.
The men then led dozens of Arizona law officers on a 50-mile midnight chase, but couldn't shake pursuers despite firing bullets and spreading debris, officials said.
The suspects tossed out wrenches, other tools and an air compressor tank during the chase around midnight Thursday, police said. A half-dozen police cruisers were disabled after hitting debris or being struck by bullets.
Despite their efforts, the numbers of officers kept growing even as many had to drop out of the pursuit due to vehicles disabled by the objects thrown by the suspects.
Eventually the suspects jumped out and opened fire on police before falling to the ground in a hail of bullets. Both are expected to survive. Officer Shuhandler was not so lucky. The father of two girls died shortly before midnight.