Saturday, September 02, 2000
Officer dies every 54 hours in U.S.
By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Once for each 54 hours in the United States, a police officer meets the fate Kevin Crayon met in the middle of Colerain Avenue early Friday morning.
An officer is killed on duty.
Some are shot to death. Some are stabbed. Some die in auto accidents while chasing suspects. Others, like Cincinnati Police Officer Crayon, are struck by vehicles.
They die in aircraft, are struck by trains, are stabbed with knives or, on rare occasions, are beaten to death.
And every police officer whether directing traffic on a downtown street at noon, rattling doorknobs in a business district in the wee hours, or standing by the side of the road at a traffic stop knows that he could be next.
Whenever something like this happens, it should be a wake-up call for the community, said Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks how officers are assaulted and killed each year nationwide.
Sometimes, we wonder why a cop doesn't treat us better in a traffic stop, Mr. Floyd said. We wonder why they are so suspicious or cautious or bark at us when we don't do exactly what they say.
What we don't understand is that they know that every minute they are doing their jobs could be their last.
People generally think of police deaths as situations in which officers are killed in an exchange of gunfire, but guns accounted for 26 percent of the 459 police deaths in the U.S. from 1997 through 1999.
According to memorial fund figures, of the 76 police officers killed nation wide through June of this year, 26 were shot to death, 24 died in automobile accidents, six were struck by cars while the officers were outside of their police cruisers, five died in aircraft accidents, three drowned, two fell to their deaths, four died of job-related illnesses, two were stabbed, one died in a bicycle accident, and one officer was killed in an ac cident involving a horse.
Over the past 10 years, there has been an annual average of 160 police deaths, 62,552 assaults on officers and 21,433 injuries to police officers.
It is a daily occurrence, Mr. Floyd said. You have any number of ways an officer can be injured on the job, whether it's taking down a suspect and getting punched or kicked, or being run over at a traffic stop.
No matter how routine the circumstance might appear to be, there is always the threat that you may not walk away from it alive, Mr. Floyd said.
Mr. Floyd said officials at the fund, who operate a memorial and museum dedicated to fallen police officers, heard about the death of Officer Crayon early Friday.
The chairman said the Cincinnati case reminded him of the time 11 years ago when an officer in Massachusetts, Harold Vitale, died after being dragged by a car.
I have Harold Vitale's photo on my desk; I look at it every day, Mr. Floyd said.
Grief pours forth, questions linger
Officer Crayon 'always looked for the good side in people'
Courtney Mathis tried to grow up too fast
Crayon funeral arrangements
Police seek witnesses
Officer broke with procedure, police say
'Gray cloud' over District 5
PULFER: Gratitude to 'watchmen' must endure
List of Cincinnati officers killed in line of duty
Officer dies every 54 hours in U.S.
Parachutist stuck 29 floors high
Riverfest plea: Take the bus
XU, Mount get high marks
Black group to boycott restaurants
Death pool last drained on June 23
Householder defended in light of record
Killer seeks new trial or release
Motorist indicted in boy's death
RAMSEY: Where you are is what you get
School violence summit spotlights warning signs
GET TO IT
Northern Kentucky new homes on parade
Pig Parade: Albert Swinestein
Arena district may spark nightlife
Judge still blocks partial-birth ban
Ky. college fee increases called fair
Ky. to hear Gore's 'worker' message
Man killed walking in front of train
New trial ordered in murder case