WASHINGTON, D.C.–Mississippi ends the year on a grim note. There were seven police officers who died this year, according to Craig Floyd, president and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That means Mississippi ranks third in the nation, behind Texas and California in law enforcement deaths.
“There’s only been one year in Mississippi’s history where they lost more officers and that was in 1989 when ten officers were killed in the line of duty,” said Floyd.
“The other states are much larger, with many more officers serving, so this really is one of those tragic aberrations. We don’t normally see this.”
Floyd said 218 officers have died in the line of duty in the state’s history. All their names are on the national memorial in Washington, D.C., that was erected in 1991. Floyd’s organization raises money to keep the memorial up and also keeps an extensive database on law enforcement deaths and injuries.
He said the death of Cpl. Gale Stauffer on Dec. 23, was the first time an officer has been shot and killed in Tupelo.
“One officer died from a job-related illness, three were struck and killed by vehicles while outside of their own vehicle, two were shot and killed and one died in an auto crash. The causes of death were all over the map as you see typically nationally.”
Floyd said the main thing you can do for the officers who are living is to thank them and not take them for granted.
“We can make sure that our officers who continue to serve have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively and safely.”
Floyd said that includes making sure every officer has a bullet resistant vest and less lethal weaponry so they do have to engage dangerous criminals in hand to hand combat.
“And there’s another law that we need to be sensitive to and that’s ‘Move Over and Slow Down’. That’s the law of the land in all 50 states. It says if you see an emergency vehicle you must slow down and if possible, move over a lane.”
This is a link to the organization’s website: http://www.nleomf.org/about/
Gov. Bryant has said that he intends to see public safety as the primary focus of the 2014 legislative session and fully funded the Dept. of Public Safety in his recommended budget for next fiscal year.
In Mississippi, the Highway Patrol routinely donates its out-of-warranty bullet-proof vests to local law enforcement agencies.
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