In five states, 11 officers are shot within 24 hours
Tue, 25 Jan 2011 03:41:44 GMT —
11 officers shot within 24 hours in five different states: Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Oregon and Washington.
Two of them from St. Petersburg, Florida, are dead.
Dougherty County is no stranger to tragedies like this. Lt. Cliff Rouse with the Dougherty County Police Department was shot and killed while on duty in December.
Some of the officers out of the 11 were responding to traffic stops and search warrants.
"As a retired law enforcement officer I know that there are days when nothing seems to be happening, and it's on that day where everything seems to be routine that something does happen," says Dr. Walter Bowers, who's now a Criminal Justice professor at Albany State University.
Deaths of police officers in the line of duty increased 37 percent compared to last year, jumping to 160 from 117, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
What does this mean for law enforcement safety?
"I think that the current safety precautions that the current law enforcement officers use are probably adequate, and I say that because the training that law enforcement officers receive is top of the line training," says Bowers.
He says this yearly training includes how to make vehicle and felony stops as well as how to execute warrants.
"Sometimes you can't really train for different situations: You just have to do the best that you can," says Asst. Chief Cynthia Battle with the Dougherty County Police Department.
Those in law enforcement say officers are taught that no two stops are the same.
"Each situation is different. Once they get into a situation they have to assess what's happening -- and all that happens very quickly -- then respond appropriately," says Battle. "Every day they're just advised to go out and remember the procedures they learned in basic training and for in-service training."
Bowers says during his time on the police force, they were reminded they weren't Superman.
"On a day-to-day basis we were taught not to go out with what was considered to be 'Tombstone Courage.' That means believing that we could conquer any situation," Bowers says.
He says there are numerous reasons for this increase in law enforcement shootings.
"Reasons may include current economic conditions. People may be responding as a result of being wanted for something, and once they are stopped by officers they may believe that the officers have an idea that they are wanted. They may choose to resist arrest. Those kinds of actions can cause people to behave violently toward officers," Bowers says.
While every reason could be different, so can every day and every situation police officers find themselves in.
"Sometimes officers have the tendency to forget that no stop is ever routine," says Bowers. "They must remember that no two stops are necessarily the same."