The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and good tidings. However, for society's protectors — military, fire, and police — the holidays are also often dangerous and tragic.
The 155 LEO deaths in 2010 have already far exceeded the 128 in 2009, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Fifty-six of the line-of-duty deaths have been by gunfire, compared with the 47 gunfire deaths in 2009.
For Chicago police, 2010 has been an especially deadly year with five CPD LODDs, and the recent off-duty shooting death of a respected veteran CPD SWAT officer — disturbing numbers Chicago hasn't seen in two decades.
The most recent LODD is U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, 40, who was shot and killed with an AK-47 rifle while his SWAT team was attempting to apprehend an armed subject preying on illegal immigrants near the Arizona-Mexico border.
Agent Terry, a former Marine and Detroit Police officer, had been with his agency for less than four years when he was killed. Described as a "cop's cop," he died tragically, doing what he loved, leaving behind his parents, brother and sisters.
I never had the honor of meeting Brian Terry, but how he lived his life speaks volumes to the brave, honorable LEO he embodied. His death is the third from the Border Patrol, and eleventh federal LODD in 2010.
Texas, with 15 LODDs, leads the grim toll for 2010. California with 11, Illinois with 10, and Florida with nine follow close behind. In 2010, five female and 150 male LEO's have died. Their average age is 41, and average tour of duty is 11 years, 11 months.
The ODMP lists a staggering 478 reported Chicago police LODDs. According to ODMP Canada, in 2010 there have been seven LODDs, exceeding the four LODDs reported in 2009.
These are sobering reminders of how dangerous the holiday season is for law enforcement. Just how dangerous? Here are several sobering, historical LODD facts from ODMP:
- Dec. 24: 71 LODDs (43 by gunfire)
- Dec. 25: 83 LODDs (45 by gunfire)
- Dec. 31: 64 LODDs (30 by gunfire)
- Jan. 1: 111 LODDs (61 by gunfire)
I almost feel like the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" for even discussing these grim LODDs. But I feel a strong obligation and duty to do so, as a sobering reminder to all of us to be extra alert and vigilant, especially during the holidays.
If there's any good news in all this, it's that the 155 LODDs represent a small percentage of the nearly 900,000 LEOs in America. However, the 155 LODDs in 2010 are 155 too many. Even one LODD is one too many.
All police, military and firefighters willingly understand and accept the duty, challenge, sacrifice, risk of their noble professions. We know full well the ever-present dangers that lurk in the shadows — dangers that include the possibility of serious injury or death.
That's possibility, not probability. The simple fact is no one ever signs up to become a "statistic." While we dedicate our careers to protecting and serving society, we have an equal duty to protect each other and also ourselves.
To protect and serve means to survive and prevail. We do this against all odds.
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