The hunt continued Monday for the person suspected of gunning down a young Louisiana cop last week, her murder coming during a 7-day stretch that proved particularly tragic for police officers, with data now showing a rise in 2019 line of duty deaths as compared to the year before.
As America enters its third full week of the calendar year tomorrow, seven police officers have already been confirmed killed this January. The latest death occurred Sunday, capping off a horrific seven days for the men and women in blue, in which officers also died in separate incidents on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“We are disheartened to see an increase in law enforcement officer fatalities as we begin the new year,” Steve Groeninger, senior communications director of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, told Fox News. “This uptick serves as an important reminder of the dangers of the job for America’s peace officers and that we owe the men and women who serve our sincere debt of gratitude for their efforts to keep our communities safe.”
The Officer Down Memorial Page, which keeps a running list of deaths of police officers in the line of duty, said that while “officers throughout the country continue to remain vigilant to this type of unwarranted attack, unfortunately sometimes there is little that can be done to prevent such an incident.”
“So far in 2019 there have been six line of duty deaths, a 33 percent overall increase over the same time last year,” Chris Cosgriff, the Officer Down executive director and founder, told Fox News. “Felonious gunfire deaths are up 67 percent and vehicle-related incidents are also up 67 percent. All three of the traffic-related deaths involved officers being struck by vehicles while outside of their patrol cars."
He added: “All three of these deaths could have been easily avoided had the offending drivers complied with their states' move-over laws and no-texting-while-driving laws.”
The only cop not killed in the line of duty this year, Shreveport Police Officer Chateri Payne, was shot Wednesday night while preparing to head to work, investigators said. Her funeral has been set for this upcoming Saturday – and the “coward, or cowards” who opened fire at her – in the words of police -- have not yet been found.
The six officers that have been killed in the line of duty so far this year are:
- Master Police Officer Joseph William Shinners, Provo Police Department (Utah): Shinners was shot and killed while trying to apprehend a fugitive on Jan. 5, which has now become the deadliest day for police officers in Utah’s history. Six officers have died on that same day years apart, according to KTSU.
- Police Officer Dale James Woods, Colerain Township Police Department (Ohio): Woods, a 15-year veteran of his department, died on Jan. 7 after succumbing to injuries he suffered days earlier when he was hit by a pickup truck while trying to remove traffic cones from the scene of a prior crash.
- Police Officer Clayton Joel Townsend, Salt River Police Department (Arizona): Townsend, who is survived by his wife and 10-month-old child, was killed on Jan. 8 during a traffic stop. Townsend was walking toward a car he pulled over when another vehicle operated by someone who later admitted to texting while driving slammed into him, police say.
- Police Officer Natalie Corona, Davis Police Department (California): Corona, a 22-year-old and recent police academy graduate, was gunned down on Jan. 10 in what police are describing as an “ambush”-style attack. Her killer later took his own life.
- Trooper Christopher Lambert, Illinois State Police (Illinois): Lambert was driving home north of Chicago on Saturday when he stopped to investigate a three-car crash. The 34-year-old was then hit by another vehicle traveling through the area in a death police say appears to be accidental.
- Sergeant Wytasha Carter, Birmingham Police Department (Alabama): Carter, who previously was among a group of officers who rushed into a house fire to save two little girls, was shot and killed outside a nightclub early Sunday while investigating a suspected car burglary.
The uptick in deaths in 2019 follows a year-wide increase in 2018, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
“The Memorial Fund announced in its 2018 Preliminary End-of-Year Law Enforcement Fatalities Report that 144 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers died in the line of duty over the past year, representing a 12 percent increase over the 129 officers who died in the line of duty in 2017,” it said on its website.
Dennis Slocumb, the Legislative Director of the International Union of Police Associations, told Fox News that "most departments are operating shorthanded and the situation with recruitment appears to be getting worse."
"While violent crime rates are increasing, there is pressure in many states to minimize prison populations," he added. "Law Enforcement Officers are seemingly as wary of the political realities as they are of the criminal element. They will, however, continue to bravely answer calls for service and put themselves in peril to protect their residents. That will not change."