As I write this, four police officers have been shot and killed within the past week in the United States.
If that was not tragic enough, it is Law Enforcement Memorial Week — the week each year when police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered for their service.
On May 10, 2021, Deputy Stephen Jones and Deputy Samuel Leonard from the Concho County Sheriff’s Department were shot and killed responding to a call of a dog complaint. A city employee who was with them was also wounded. The suspect was later taken into custody.
On May 10, 2021, Detective Luca Benedetti of the San Luis Obispo Police Department was shot and killed while attempting to serve a search warrant on a burglary suspect. Another officer was also wounded in the attack. Benedetti was married and had two young children.
The next day, on May 11, 2021, Officer James Inn was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance of a woman screaming, wearing a ripped shirt and bleeding.
Inn was shot multiple times as he tried to make contact at the suspect’s residence. A second officer arrived on the scene and saw the suspect holding a gun over the fallen officer. The officer opened fire on the suspect, who retreated into an apartment but later come out with his eight-year-old son. The man was strangling his son when a man tackled the suspect. The officer opened fire, killing the suspect.
It’s a tragedy whenever a police officer is killed in the line of duty. For their loved ones, their departments, and the community as a whole. It speaks to the fact that we live in a society where violence is an every day occurrence.
When we speak of officers killed, we often fail to understand that police officers are being shot at every day. Some are seriously injured while others, either because of training or fate, escape uninjured.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police, 91 police officers have been shot this year through April 30, 2021. This does not include any data on the number of officers who have been shot at and missed. I am not aware of any organizations tracking with any degree of accuracy the number of times police officers have been fired upon by suspects.
Using the wonders of Google search functions and limiting to cases of officers being shot at as reported in the news media since May 1, 2021, I found the cases below. Note that there are very likely more — maybe even a lot more — cases that haven’t been covered by the media to any extent.
On May 5, 2021, a Nashville police officer was shot while responding to a call of a woman having been shot. The call turned out to be a setup, with the suspect waiting for the responding officer.
On May 7, 2021, the Norton police chief was shot and seriously injured while responding to a call of a shoplifter.
On May 7, 2021, a deputy in Calaveras County was responding to a domestic violence call where the suspect took a hostage and was killed after shooting the deputy and hostage.
On May 7, 2021, a Memphis police officer and an ATF agent were shot and injured after being shot at by four people. The officers were in the neighborhood investigating a carjacking.
On May 8, 2021, in Montgomery, AL police officers were wounded responding to a shooting.
On May 9, 2021, a Denver police officer was shot during a disturbance call.
On May 10, 2021, an Oregon police officer was shot at and suffered an eye injury while setting up a spike strip when the suspect fired at pursuing officers.
On May 10, 2021, a Prairie Grove police officer was shot three times while responding to a domestic dispute. He was seriously injured and underwent multiple surgeries.
On May 11, 2021, an Anaheim police officer was shot at while pursuing an armed suspect. The suspect was later cornered in a cul-de-sac and taken into custody. A rifle was recovered.
It is important, especially this week, to remember that the job of a police officer is dangerous. What you see in the news doesn’t capture just how dangerous it is. Officers shot and injured and those that are shot at rarely make the headlines and if the data is correct, the job is getting more dangerous every day.