Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of each of these brave officers.

Lieutenant Cliff Rouse, 39

Dougherty County Georgia Police Department

December 23, 2010 – Lieutenant Cliff Rouse was shot and killed after responding to an armed robbery at a convenience store. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Officer Ann O’Donnell, 24

University of Houston (Texas) Police Department

December 24, 2010 – Officer Ann O’Donnell was killed in an automobile crash while responding to a robbery-in-progress call. She is survived by her parents and sister.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Ray Schaefer, 55

Uvalde County Texas Sheriff’s Department

December 25, 2010 – Deputy Michael Schaefer suffered a fatal heart attack while struggling with a criminal suspect.

Officer John Maguire, 60

Woburn Massachusetts Police Department

December 26, 2010 – Officer John Maguire was shot and killed after responding to a robbery in progress. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Trooper First Class Chadwick T. LeCroy, 38

Georgia State Patrol

December 27, 2010 – Trooper First Class Chadwick T. LeCroy was shot and killed after a brief vehicle pursuit. Trooper LeCroy is survived by his wife and two sons.

Officer Jillian Michelle Smith, 24

Arlington Texas Police Department

December 28, 2010 – Officer Jillian Smith was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance.

*As of this posting there have been 162 line of duty deaths in 2010.

Thanks to ODMP

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Officer Jillian Smith: A True Hero

I remember the feeling of answering your first calls with your field training officer stuck to you like glue, making sure you didn’t do or say anything dumb. It was also the FTO’s responsibility to keep you safe. Sure, you’d been through months of training at the academy, but nothing could prepare you for the real street action.

Years later, I, too, became a field training officer, watching over the rookies as they learned the ropes and tricks of the trade. It’s a period in an officer’s career that’s not unlike a baby taking her first steps. They stumble around and mom or dad is always there to catch them when they fall. But there are some in this world who never trip. They never stumble. Those are the ones who hit the carpet running. And that’s the story of Arlington Texas Police Officer Jillian Smith.

Jillian was a typical girl in high school. A good student and a cheerleader. But there was one thing that set her apart from the other giggling  sixth-graders. She wanted to be a police officer, an interest sparked by the local D.A.R.E. program.

Smith, with her goals in mind, received a bachelors degree in criminology from the University of Texas where she graduated with honors in August of 2009. Six months later she was hired by the Arlington Police Department. She checked the first goal off her list and entered the police academy—Class 41. Again, her drive was evident. She earned top grades in many of the classes and she graduated on August 20, 2010.

With her academy training behind her, Smith breezed through the field training program, completing it on December 13, 2010. She now had another goal in mind. She wanted to get some street experience behind her and then, hopefully, sign on with the FBI. That was two weeks ago.

Tuesday night, fifteen short days after completing all her training, Jillian Michelle Smith was shot to death while protecting an 11-year-old child during a domestic dispute. Officer Smith had responded to a low-priority call where a woman wanted to file a report of abuse by her husband who had already left the residence.

Officer Smith was in the process of recording the necessary information when the husband returned and began firing a weapon. Smith placed herself between the gunfire and the child and was killed. The suspect also shot and killed his wife, but the child Officer Smith had protected was able to escape without harm. The suspect then shot and killed himself.

Officer Jillian Smith was a true hero, and if she were able to do so she could check one more item off her list. You see, Officer Smith firmly believed she was on this earth to protect and serve the community where she lived. And she was right. Because of her bravery a child lived to see another day.

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Attacks Leave Five Dozen Americans Dead

If the headline read, Attacks Leave Five Dozen Americans Dead, would you be alarmed? Would you sit up and take notice? Would you want justice served? Sure you would. And rightly so. And I’ve heard the anger when Americans speak of our soldiers dying when they’re attacked while defending us. Again, we have a right to be angry at the barbarians who killed those brave young men and women. These are front page stories. Big headlines. And they make us mad. They make us sad. And some have even wanted to seek vengeance by blowing up entire countries. Yes, we want to stand by our own…right?

Then why is it when a police officer is shot and killed the story rarely makes the front page? When, or if, an officer’s death does make the headlines the article is normally buried beneath a story like the latest Sarah Palin adventure—her kid’s gutter mouths, a moose killing, or making smores.

Police officer on-duty deaths are on the rise at an alarming rate. There was a 37 percent increase in those deaths this year, and it seems like cop-killing has almost become a sport for some bad guys.

In 2010 alone, 160 police officers have lost their lives while enforcing our laws and defending our lives and property. Those 160 officers left home that morning fully expecting to return home to a nice dinner with their families, play a little catch with their kids, and maybe watch Castle on TV before turning in for the night. Instead, some thug decided that killing a cop to escape arrest was better than serving 6 months in jail for shoplifting.

Fifty-nine police officers were gunned down this year. Yes, someone pulled the trigger on a weapon while taking aim at a police officer. And those officers fell to the ground, bleeding, and died. Blood drained from their bodies, pouring out onto asphalt, concrete, carpeting, and stairways. The scenario is becoming a familiar one. It’s almost as if cop-killing is becoming another way of life—collateral damage. Or a badge of honor among street thugs. It’s sickening.

Yesterday, I attended a large family gathering. We enjoyed a nice meal together and catching up on the latest news led to a house full of loud chatter. One of the family members seated near me is a deputy sheriff and, of course, we talked shop. He’s a young man who loves his job. He loves the uniform and the badge and what they stand for. Listening to him reminded me of me thirty years ago when I was saying the same things to another retired police officer, a man I admired and who was largely responsible for igniting the “want to be a cop” fire in me.

During my conversation yesterday with Deputy Family Member, I noticed how quiet and soft-spoken he was. He’s a large muscular man, like many deputies, and I sensed that his size is in direct proportion to his compassion for the people he serves. I also noticed that he took the time to think before speaking. His words were measured and his statements were especially meaningful when we discussed officer safety. My thoughts quickly drifted to my Friday blogs honoring the officers who’ve been killed in the line of duty during those individual weeks.

I know that police officers have been trained to be as safe as possible. But I wonder if we haven’t somehow painted a bulls eye on their chests by forcing departments to cut back on manpower (backup), supplies, and training. Times are tight, yes, but is reducing officer safety the place to start pinching pennies? To me, five dozen dead police officers is unacceptable. And those are just the ones who were shot and killed this year. One-hundred-one more were run over by cars, beaten to death, killed in car crashes while chasing fleeing felons, and a few suffered fatal heart attacks while struggling with some punk who was attempting to escape arrest.

So, if the headline read,  Nearly Fourteen Dozen Americans Dead, would you take notice? You should, because that’s how many officers have died in the line of duty so far this year.

To all the officers out there…Please be careful. Wear your vests. And don’t take any chances. There’s no shame in a tactical retreat. Your family enjoys spending time with you. Even if it’s only once a year at the holiday gathering.

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A Cop’s Christmas

Candies, cakes, and eggnog.

Turkey, ham, and stuffing.

Pumpkin pie

My favorite.

Family, friends, and sleeping dog on hearth.

Fireplace crackles

Cedar logs sizzle.

Cookies and milk.

Laughter, giggles, and squeals.

Stockings and gifts.

Love and dreams.

Home.

Wish I was there.

Pepperspray, handcuffs, and puking drunks.

Radios, shotguns, and Tasers.

Spouses abused. Battered.

Black eyes and broken bones.

Not their fault.

Dealers, robbers, and sad, pitiful kids.

No toys. Plenty of drugs.

Crack pipes burning.

No place to sleep.

No food, no heat.

Gunshots. Stab wounds.

Car crashes and suicides.

Crying, bleeding, and dying.

Ambulances, hospitals, and morgues.

Home.

Glad I have one.

Aren’t you?

*Please remember the many police officers, fire crews, rescue workers, hospital staff, and all others who work to keep us safe during the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

The Graveyard Shift extends our condolences to the families of each of these brave officers.

Officer James Lister

Arizona State University Police Department

December 16, 2010 – Officer James Lister suffered a fatal heart attack one day after responding to a fight at the university.

Officer Andrew J. Rameas, 33

Harker Heights Texas Police Department

December 20, 2010 – Officer Rameas was leading a funeral procession when an SUV suddenly turned in front of his motorcycle. He was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV and died as a result of the injuries he received in the crash.

Officer Rameas is survived by his parents.

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IAFIS and IDENT: Government BFF’s

In the past, federal and local law enforcement agencies were like oil and water. They didn’t mix. There was no sharing of information and no real cooperation among agencies. And there was certainly no love lost between the two (Picture Rush Limbaugh in a room with President Obama. Yeah, that bad.). But not passing along vital information wasn’t a problem that existed just between the locals and the feds. Not at all. Those three letter federal agencies were just as tight-lipped with each other. And that’s a problem when it comes to catching bad guys.

But in the wake of  9-11 things changed. Officials quickly realized the importance of information sharing. Officer’s lives depended on it. Civilian’s lives depended on it. And the security of our country depended on it. And a good thing to begin sharing was vital information about criminals. After all, that’s common ground, right? All law enforcement agencies are after the crooks, so what do all crooks have in common that could/should be shared among LEO’s (law enforcement officers)? You guessed it…fingerprints and criminal histories.

Nearly everyone has heard of IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System). That’s the national fingerprint and criminal history system maintained by the FBI. In fact, IAFIS is home to the fingerprint and criminal history records of more than 66 million people/suspects. What you may not know is that IAFIS also includes mugshots, tattoo and scar information, and the prints of those who serve or have served in the U.S. military.

IAFIS response time can be as fast as ten minutes for criminal cases, and perhaps as long as an hour or so for civil inquiries. The system responds to over 160,000 requests each and every day.

Okay, that’s IAFIS. Now, for IDENT (Automated Biometric Identification System). IDENT was first used in 1989 by INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) as a means to collect and transmit data, such as fingerprints, date of birth, nationality, and photographs, in real time.

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Mobile Fingerprint Reader

The data collected for IDENT is normally gathered from persons whose citizenship status may be questionable, terrorists, or those persons involved in crimes/cases worked by ICE, Border Patrol, and other government agencies charged with protecting the U.S borders (Department of Homeland Security).

So, seeing the need to “compare notes,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  have integrated the two systems. Now a check of a suspect’s prints, background, immigration and previous deportation status, etc. can be conducted in a timely manner. In the past, many suspects who were wanted for crimes by other agencies simply slipped through the cracks.

In the first four months of 2010, IDENT produced over 73,000 hits, or matches, of a suspect to a print in the system. As a result , nearly 3,000 illegal immigrants were removed from the U.S. during the month of January 2010 alone. Of that group nearly 500 had been charged or convicted of serious and/or violent crimes in the U.S.

The combined system is working well and will only improve as time goes on. Other agencies have begun sharing information and are experiencing similar results. Local law enforcement and the feds are finally working together on many projects.

And, for now, IAFIS and IDENT are BFF’s (best friends forever). OMG…

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Two more BFF’s.

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