Home News Detroit police under siege; 6 officers shot in recent months

Detroit police under siege; 6 officers shot in recent months

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When two Detroit officers were shot Sunday night, they became the fifth and sixth officers shot in the line of duty in a short seven months.

Between the uprising in anti-cop rhetoric and increased numbers of first responders facing gunfire, The Detroit News reports cops in the city feel like they’re under siege.

Police officials are trying to drill down to the root of the problem. They contend the motives aren’t reflective of a single issue.

“Whatever the cause is, at the end of the day, when I’ve got yet another officer in the hospital fighting for his life, that plays heavy on the psyche of every other officer,” Detroit Police Officer’s Association president Mark Diaz told The Detroit News.

Diaz says the uptick in aggression toward officers is the worst he’s seen in his years of service.

“This is the worst I can remember in my 23 years in law enforcement,” he said. “But what do you attribute it to? If we knew exactly what the cause was for people opening fire on our officers, we could deal with it. But I think it’s a combination of many different variables.”

The Detroit News reports the latest shooting happened around 11:45 p.m. Sunday when two officers from the 12th Precinct were responding to reports of a burglary at a vacant home in Detroit’s northwest side.

The house were the shootings occurred — which is across the street — had been burglarized Thursday, and the grandfather of the home’s 19-year-old occupant gave him a shotgun to protect his family, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told The Detroit News.

When the officers, both 25 years old, approached that house, the 19-year-old man shot them through the door, the chief said. One officer, a two-year veteran, was shot in the face and was listed in critical condition Monday at Sinai-Grace Hospital. The other officer, who has been on the police force 18 months, was hit with a piece of shrapnel, and was treated and released from the hospital, The Detroit News reports.

Craig tells The Detroit News the 19-year-old resident likely didn’t know he was shooting at police officers.

“It appears maybe this subject thought he was the victim of a burglary and was trying to protect his home, which is different than someone who specifically tries to kill a police officer,” he said. “But that doesn’t take away the high risk.”

 

NATIONWIDE NUMBERS

 

The Detroit News reports the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which tracks police officer deaths, says 37 officers have been killed in the line of duty nationwide in 2017, a 12 percent increase over the same period last year, although the 11 officers killed by gunfire marks a drop of 31 percent from 2015.

In 2016, 144 officers were killed in the line of duty, a 56 percent increase from the previous year. These numbers are driven by high-profile police shootings across the country, including the ambushes of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There were 64 officers fatally shot in 2016, with 21 officers killed in ambush attacks, according to the Memorial Fund.

Detroit’s police chief says numbers may indicate numbers are down, but that doesn’t change officers’ feelings in regard to safety.

“Some might argue that statistically there were more officers killed in the past, but I can tell you: Our officers feel like they’re under attack right now,” Craig tells The Detroit News. He also says Sunday’s shootings were a sobering reminder of the dangers officers face every day — not sometimes, but each and every day they put on the uniform.

The chief tells The Detroit News violence against cops is out of control.

“There are a lot of things going on that are contributing to the dangers officers are facing, including the anti-police rhetoric, which inflames some people into thinking police are the enemy,” Craig said. “People are threatening officers on social media. It’s gotten out of hand.”

After Sunday’s double shooting, Craig is telling his officers they must remain vigilant and avoid complacency.

“Police work can become routine, and complacency kills,” Craig tells The Detroit News. “The two most dangerous things a police officer can engage in is a domestic violence incident, when emotions are running high, or a simple traffic stop. On its face, the stop may appear to be routine, but as we’ve seen so many times, it can turn deadly in a split second.”

Craig says when officers have the right training, chances of survival increase. He tells The Detroit News he’s offered advanced tactical training to officers who want to take it, and there’s required in-service training for all officers that covers basic safety tactics.

 

DETROIT’S NUMBERS BROKEN DOWN

 

? Sept. 17: Detroit Sgt. Kenneth Steil died after being shot in the shoulder while chasing an alleged carjacker.

? Nov. 23: Wayne State Police K-9 Officer Collin Rose was shot while investigating a string of car break-ins and died a day later.

? March 15: James Kisselburg and Ben Atkinson, 3rd Precinct Special Operations officers, were shot when a man opened fire with a .38 revolver, striking Kisselburg in the neck and Atkinson in the ankle.

? April 16: Two officers from the 12th Precinct were shot while investigating a burglary on Detroit’s northwest side. 

 

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