Law enforcement officer deaths continue to be on the rise with 104 lost lives to date in 2016. In 2015 a total of 123 officers were killed. Lt. Steve James of the Long Beach, California police department understands the stress of not knowing if colleagues will live through their shifts. When two officers were killed and a third wounded in early October, James did not immediately know if any of the officers involved were friends of his.
“I’m devastated no matter who it is, but I didn’t happen to know those two,” James said. Just days before Sgt. Steve Owen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff lost his life while responding to a burglary call.
Law enforcement officers around the country have become hyperaware while on duty and their stress levels are higher than ever. They are also aware that the spotlight is shining on their actions daily as they patrol and respond to calls.
Sgt. Debby Foy of the Riverside Police Department has served in law enforcement for 32 years and hasn’t let the recent rise in deaths deter her from doing her job. She believes that 99 percent of the public support police and said she is proud of her job. She admits she has become more cautious though and ensures that she has backup available before entering into a dangerous situation.
Law enforcement agencies understand the need to have a connection with the communities they serve in order to reduce the tensions that exist in many cities across the nation. Chief Charlie Beck of the LAPD is making efforts to reduce lethal force by officers by utilizing body cameras and stun guns as safer alternatives. Deputy Chief Bob Green of the LAPD believes that there has to be a balanced, two-way discussion to ensure police are able to protect themselves as well as the communities they serve.