My Fellow Law Enforcement Leaders,
I am deeply saddened by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) report released yesterday, presenting preliminary 2011 year-end data that indicates 173 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. This is a 13 percent increase over the 153 line of duty deaths in 2010, and a startling 42 percent increase over the 122 officers killed in 2009. Tragically, 68 officers were shot and killed in 2011. This contributes to an upward trend of needless deaths that have occurred in recent years. For the first time in 14 years, officers killed in firearms-related incidents exceeded the 64 officers who died in traffic-related incidents.
I know how tragic each of these deaths is for the families and loved ones left behind and for the men and women of the deceased officers’ departments. I know each and every IACP member joins me in sending our deepest condolences to the loved ones and colleagues of these fallen heroes.
I can assure you that I am committed to the issues involving officer safety. I have made this one of the priority issues of my presidency, and I will do everything possible to reverse this unacceptable wave of violence directed at the men and women on the front lines of law enforcement not only in the United States but also around the world.
To that end, I can assure you that the IACP will continue its efforts legislatively and programmatically to remove illegal firearms from our streets, ensuring they do not get into the hands of violent criminals. We will continue our efforts to prevent officer injuries through the efforts of our IACP SACOP SafeShield program, which promotes overall officer safety including through the use of body armor. The IACP has been successful in educating law enforcement about the importance of body armor. To date, the IACP/DuPont Survivors Club has recorded that 3,142 officers’ lives have been saved because they were wearing their vests. In 2011 alone, there are 70 reported saves.
The IACP National Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police, a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, in 2012 will continue its research to develop protocol and strategies across the criminal justice system to prevent and ultimately eliminate violence against law enforcement officers. The National Center’s operations will focus on conducting research and analysis, translating the findings into actionable information, and disseminating recommendations to the field.
I look forward to working collectively with the law enforcement leadership that the IACP represents to do everything humanly possible to protect the brave men and women of our profession from injury and death. Together, we can make 2012 a much safer year. We owe it to the families and loved ones who each day wonder if their law enforcement husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters will return home safely.
Walter A. McNeil