Officer down!

Two simple words with a huge meaning — life or death.

When searching for a topic for today’s blog I stumbled across a series of troubling headlines, many involving the shooting of police officers by a thug with a gun who thought nothing of pulling the trigger. In fact, shooting and killing a police officer in these modern times is an act regarded by some as no more serious than swatting a fly.

When did society make this turn, where a human life is no more valuable than that of an insect? Kids can longer travel to Mexico during spring break out of fear of being gunned down or beheaded by members of drug cartels. A simple walk in a park sometimes leads to a missing person case that all too often ends with the discovery of a body in a landfill or shallow grave in the woods. Suicide bombers kill anybody they can, doesn’t matter who. They just want to kill somebody.

Police officers respond to calls of domestic violence only to be shot by the very people they’re trying to help. Traffic stops result in gun fire. Bank robberies and convenience store hold-ups end in shoot outs.

Each and every day police officers are slapped, punched, spit on, kicked, stabbed, cut, and shot. All while enforcing laws, and protecting citizens and their property.

Cops didn’t band together and write up a bunch of laws so they’d have something to do.

It wasn’t a police officer who one day decided to make pot illegal, which, by the way, was the cause of two Baltimore, Md, police officers being shot this past weekend. Officers stopped a car and subsequently found marijuana. During the arrest of the car’s occupants the driver pulled a .25 caliber pistol and fired. He shot one officer in the cheek and the other in the hand. The suspect was shot and killed by the third officer at the scene.

Each Friday I post a list of officers killed in the line of duty during that week. As most of you know, I rarely ever report a death-free week. What you don’t see are the survivors — the officers who are hurt, wounded, or involved in shooting situations during the course of their shifts. To give you an idea of what goes on, here are just a few of the headlines for the past couple of weeks.

Jacksonville, Fl. – Arrest Made After Two Florida Cops Shot During Pursuit

Citrus Heights, Ca. – California Officers Shot During Struggle With Suspect

Baltimore – Maryland Officer Shot At Traffic Stop, Suspect Killed

Salt Lake City – DA Says Officer Justified In Shooting

Hemet – California Police Tense After Latest Gang Threat (police stations and cars have been booby-trapped with explosives, gas, and other deadly weapons)

Oak Hill – West Virginia Cop Survives Shooting; Manhunt For Suspect

Atlanta – Suit Says Ga. Cop Wasn’t Certified When He Shot Suspect

Elyria – Ohio Cop Killed Responding To Disturbance

Anaheim – Off-duty Cop Fatally Shoots Violent Man

Jefferson – North Carolina Officer Dies At the End Of His Shift

Philadelphia – Pa. Gun Trafficker Gets Ten Years After Cop’s Death

Liberty County – Texas Sheriff’s Deputies Shot, Suspect Dead

What has happened to people? Why are things as they are? Are bad things influencing good people? Are people copying what they see and hear?

Video games?

News?

Movies?

TV?

Bad parenting? Poor education? What????

Why do people kill? Why do the lives of police officers mean nothing to some people?

I ask you, would you want a job where going to work meant you might be stabbed, shot, or even killed? And people wonder why cops can’t trust anyone.

I’m just saying…

  1. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks, SZ. I, too, hope CH Resident has a chance to read the article. More importantly, I hope he/she can find some closure. They seem to be fairly close to the victim in this case.

    I’ve been in situations much like the one described by CHR and the newspaper, and I can assure you that they can be pretty doggone scary. They can also escalate very quickly. And no one can possibly know exactly what happened except the people who were there. And no one can possibly know how the officer is feeling today. Taking the life of another human, no matter what the circumstance, is a gut-wrenching experience.

  2. SZ
    SZ says:

    When it comes to violence I do not think Hollywood is helping. Parents have a great responsibility, however unless you toss all televisions, video games, computers and home school your child in the mountains, he will be subjected to what we so often and casually display.

    Thank you Lee for the article on the Citrus Heights incident. Hope CH resident sees it.

    Paul, you are already my hero ! Love your attitude.

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dear CH Resident. May I suggest you re-read my blog post. Nowhere in this article have I written a single detail about the incident you’ve described for us. What I did was copy the headline, word for word, from the Sacramento Bee newspaper. So your beef is with them, not me. Besides, I never said a thing about a “bad guy” shooting anyone. The headline simply read – Citrus Heights, Ca. – California Officers Shot During Struggle With Suspect. So, please don’t try to read between my words. And please tell me how quoting a news headline damages my credibility.

    But, since you’ve brought it up, here’s the Sacramento Bee’s original article and a follow-up to it:

    Calif. officers shot during struggle with suspect
    The suspect was killed in the shootout

    Sacramento Bee

    CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. — A Citrus Heights man is dead and two police officers are injured after a domestic disturbance took a deadly turn Saturday. Citrus Heights police received a call for help on Holly Springs Court at about 2:22 p.m.

    When officers arrived at about 2:30, they contacted an intoxicated man in a “sort of alleyway” behind the address, police Sgt. Lee Herrington said. Officers described the man as belligerent, and a fight began within moments. Herrington provided no details about exactly what happened during the fight, but police confirmed late Saturday that the suspect was shot in the torso by one of the officers.

    One of the officers, a 43-year-old female, was shot in the leg. The other officers, a 30-year-old male, received a “blunt force” wound to the forehead.

    “I really don’t have any information right now about what force was used,” Herrington said. “I can tell you this happened very quickly.”

    Update: 2 Citrus Heights PD officers hurt, suspect dead

    By Matt Weiser
    mweiser@sacbee.com

    A Citrus Heights man is dead and two police officers are injured after a domestic disturbance took a deadly turn Saturday.

    Citrus Heights police received a call for help on Holly Springs Court at about 2:22 p.m.

    When officers arrived at about 2:30, they contacted an intoxicated man in a “sort of alleyway” behind the address, police Sgt. Lee Herrington said.

    Officers described the man as belligerent, and a fight began within moments.

    Herrington provided no details about exactly what happened during the fight, but police confirmed late Saturday that the suspect was shot in the torso by one of the officers.

    One of the officers, a 43-year-old female, was shot in the leg. The other officers, a 30-year-old male, received a “blunt force” wound to the forehead.

    “I really don’t have any information right now about what force was used,” Herrington said. “I can tell you this happened very quickly.”

    All three were transported to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, where the suspect was pronounced dead.

    The two officers were described as conscious and stable. The female officer may have suffered other injuries as well, but Herrington could not elaborate.

    Police said the officers might be released from the hospital Saturday night.

    The Citrus Heights Police Department has not released the names of the officers or the dead suspect.

    It also has provided no information about the weapons involved,the number of shots fired or whether the suspect was armed.

    The incident occurred at Heritage Manor, a cluster of two-story town homes on Bremen Drive, just off Greenback Lane. The complex includes Holly Springs Court.

    Investigators from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office joined the investigation Saturday night, Herrington said. This is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

    John Dent, 54, who lives near the crime scene, said he heard three gunshots while he was watching a movie.

    “I was probably 30 minutes into it and all of a sudden I heard a real quick ‘bang-bang,’ then a second later, ‘bang,’ ” Dent said.

    “I thought it was gunshots, but it didn’t click with me because I hear stuff like that all the time – kids playing with firecrackers and stuff,” Dent said.

    “This is scary, really scary.”

    Dent has lived in the area 10 years and is active in a Neighborhood Watch group.

    In recent months, he said, residents have noticed an increase in petty crimes in the neighborhood.

    “It has really gone downhill here,” he said.

    Call The Bee’s Matt Weiser, (916) 321-1264.

    Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/crime/archives/2010/03/citrus-heights-57.html#ixzz0j0mykl1p

  4. Citrus Heights Resident
    Citrus Heights Resident says:

    You MUST remove the story from Citrus Heights from this article. The man in question was unarmed. Two officers responded to a 911 call in which they claim a woman said she was being held by her ex-husband. The woman claims she never said that, but called because she was concerned for her husband’s safety due to his mental state and he needed help, not a bullet. One officer tazed the man ineffectively, scuffled with him and lost his baton to him, pulled his weapon in a densely populated area, putting residents at risk, shot his partner in the leg, then killed the man. This is NOT an example of a “bad guy” shooting a cop. Using this as an example damages the credibility of your entire article.

  5. Su
    Su says:

    I don’t profess to understand what causes one person to take the life of another. The Bible verses (and I agree, Mary – wonderful to see them) explain some of it, but our normal (read: not homicidal) human brains just can’t fathom the depth of depravity that causes one person to kill another.

    Likewise, I do not know what makes someone want to be a cop, or how they continue to do it day after day. I do not have the words to adequately express my appreciation for what they do. I think there is a special place in heaven for those who serve to protect us, be they LE or military.

    Su

  6. Mary
    Mary says:

    I’m loving all of the Bible verses and references!

    Rick – I’ve heard of that too and it’s a sick, sick thing. I hope they locked that guy up for good.

    Paul – That’s probably the best attitude you can have going into any career, especially law enforcement, and it really is inspiring. I hope you all the best in your training!

    For several years now, I’ve felt a strong pull into law enforcement, but due to health issues that isn’t a great option for me right now. Maybe it’s in God’s plan for me, maybe it’s not, or maybe He wants me to wait. Aside from wanting to help a community and help out people in need, every time I witness something illegal or stupid, I get so frustrated and want to put an end to it, or at least help put an end to it. I’ve just wondered if these drives and motivations are still as strong in training as they are 10 years into the job.

  7. Paul Kendall
    Paul Kendall says:

    You reap what you sow!! (another biblical reference)

    All the violence in video games, T.V., movies, etc. Then, we wonder why, under the naive assumption that there is something wrong with the people, ignorant to the fact that most are subjected most every day to violence and/ or wrongdoing of some sort. People ardently refuse to step back from their bubble of existence and see the bigger picture of things, the how and why. So, for most, violence is intrinsic, they know no better way, or if they do they refuse to take it.

    I am getting into law enforcement, I’m in a modulated academy. People always ask me why I want to be a cop, telling me stories like those in this blog.

    For me, it’s a calling, somewhere deep inside I know that I am supposed to move in this direction. To answer the question why, why would I knowingly subject myself to such a life as this; for me it’s that I do not mind being the pinnacle of everything that people hate, despise, and fear because I know that in a small, seemingly insignificant way I make the world a little safer, help one person to know that somewhere there is a less dreary world and existence. Maybe it does not happen everyday, but even with the us v. them mentality, the police officers of this country do not mind living like this because every once in a while they know they did the right thing, brought good to a community that needs it.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

  8. Rick M
    Rick M says:

    Food for thought—another chilling event happening more and more is the premeditated targeting of cops, Badguys are seeking out police, hunting them if you will, to attack them. A few months back this happened in Washington state. A paroled killer went into a coffee shop where four uniformed officers sat. Without provocation, this criminal shot and killed all four.

  9. Ron Estrada
    Ron Estrada says:

    The sanctity of human life is quickly becoming a thing of the past, Lee. I don’t know if you’re a bible reader, but this is from 2 Timothy 2-4:

    But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
    People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
    without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–

    Whether you’re a believer of scripture or not, that has to a pretty shocking description of the world we live in. Who to blame? I guess “all of the above.” Parents have gotten lazy, allowing kids to get lost in video games and TV. Hollywood will always go where the money is, and it’s in sex and violence. We don’t want to take responsibility for our own actions. The world owes us a living.

    I don’t think the cop’s job is going to get easier. I have to admit I hate that Friday list but force myself to read it. The fallen cop served his or her country with just as much valor as those that have fought in war. Except here the war never ends. Pray for a cop.

  10. Mary
    Mary says:

    God created man, sin came into this world, and people started killing each other. But today, people are not only provided with ideas from the media, they’re bored and are given the means to do drastic things (through credit cards, the internet, etc). It’s easier. Further more, cops are thought to be the real bad guys. They’re the enforcers, the guys who stand in the way of people getting what they want, even just by being there. It’s disgusting, and heartbreaking, and I don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon.

    Then, that asks the question why a cop becomes a cop, which is something I’ve been asking myself for a long time. What is the drive that keeps a cop dedicated, day after day? There’s a whole ‘nother post for you, Lee.

  11. SZ
    SZ says:

    Rats ! I am in Arizona visiting a friend and barely have time to read today’s blog before the next outing. Not sure if you got the e mail about the corm mazes Lee, but I got to go to one here in Phoenix. Very cool, mysterious and spooky !

    I cant find the “picture” for the contest, but will look when I get home tomorrow.

    Personal opinion, it may be, slightly, more productive if inmates were not pampered with television and such if you are hoping to rehabilitate them. It the consequences were much more severe, or the entertainment money spent on education / training in large doses we may have less crime or repeat offenders. Hard to tell historically without looking into that theory.

    Lee, I think you are writing a novel, a children’s book (with Becky Levine ?) and a blog, and writers conventions… Phew ! Seriously though, you really need to consider a memoir. Your writing above alone, and past blogs and with Police Procedures must have many who would agree.

  12. Vivian
    Vivian says:

    Lee,

    The statistics in the bulletin board section would be better if all the criminals were locked up and the keys thrown away. Ish. Our priorities are so skewed at times.

    The beach of my memories is the beach on Guam, where my family spent many a time while my father was stationed there many, many years ago.

  13. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Elena – Many people seem to conveniently forget the petty offenses they’ve committed during the course of their lifetimes. The only difference between them and some people with criminal records is that they’ve never been caught. Yet, those folks are quick to judge others (I’m definitely not speaking about you or any of the loyal Graveyard Shifters. This is just an observation of the general public :).

    In the case of the Atlanta police, I believe these officers were guilty of very minor offenses. I agree with you, having experienced the opposite side of the bar could give them an inside track.

    mnboater – One would think so, but no. Sometimes, police budgets are the first to suffer cuts.

    Peg – You should recognize the photo in our short story contest.

  14. Peg H
    Peg H says:

    I’ve been to that beach. When I was a toddler we spent many summer days playing there. We lived in Saverna Park Maryland. Maybe we built sand castles on the beach at the same time.

    Skeeball? My mother spent many summers of her youth in a skeeball arcade her uncle owned in Florida. The woman was unbeatable in Skeeball.

  15. mnboater
    mnboater says:

    Stunning photos, as always.

    Those are some sobering stats on the bulletin board. it would seem that police departments are the one area that should never be cut.

  16. Elena
    Elena says:

    Beautiful sunrise shots, Lee. Very peaceful to look at.

    At first I was disturbed by the news from Atlanta, but then having lived there 30 of my adult years I got to thinking it might actually give the cops there an advantage. Set a crook to catch a crook sort of thing. It would be interesting to follow statistics for a few years and see if there is a difference one way or another.

  17. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Becky – Gee, you’re up early.

    You know, maybe we all have a magical grandfather beach in our past. I’d forgotten that my grandfather taught me how to skip stones, too. That must be one of their job requirements. Wait a minute, I’m a grandfather. I really need to get busy making memories.

    I was born in Delaware and lived there during much of my youth. I think my heart is still there.

    Oh, I’m thinking that it’s the same sun.

  18. Becky Levine
    Becky Levine says:

    Funny, those first photos look just like sunsets at Pismo Beach, California! Where I walked with my grandfather many times. Actually, he usually raced us–giving us all a head start, then flying past us in time to cross the finish line first. We never could catch up. He taught us how to skip stones, too.

    I didn’t know you grew up in Delaware.