The National Memorial Fund for Police Officers says Missouri is one of the most dangerous states for law enforcement officers. Missouri is ranked ninth in the nation per capita for police fatalities.
Five Missouri law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty this year, putting Missouri near the top of a list that analyzes law enforcement fatalities each year.
Sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand — a St. Louis Metropolitan police officer — is president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police. He says Missouri is historically high on the list and there’s no one common factor that puts our state near the top. He says it’s also high for assaults on police officers.
He says he does not think conceal and carry laws are a cause of that, noting that the criminals who attack police do not have conceal and carry licenses but have guns anyway. However, he says, some say the law that one can conceal a gun in their car without a license might be leading to more vehicle break-ins and robberies.
And though he says assaults happen in rural and metro areas, his precinct is seeing the uptick. Two police officers have been shot in the St. Louis Metro area in the past two months, he says. Both officers survived.
Of the five killed this year, three were in traffic crashes, one in a helicopter crash, and one was shot by a fellow officer during training. Nationwide, that trend continues. Most police officers are killed in traffic crashes; the second cause is shootings.
The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police wants stiffer penalties for criminals with guns charges. Ahlbrand says the FOP will be lobbying the legislature to craft a bill that would do that and is in the process of looking for sponsors.
Nationwide, there was a spike in shooting deaths — 59 federal, state and local officers were killed by gunfire in 2010, a 20 percent jump from last year’s figures, when 49 were killed. A total of of 73 officers died in traffic incidents, a rise from the 51 killed in 2009.
Topping the list of deadly states for police officers were Texas, California, Illinois, Florida and Georgia. The California Highway Patrol and the Chicago Police Department each suffered five fatalities — the most of any other department in the nation.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund: http://www.nleomf.org
After a 50-year low in 2009, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty jumped in 2010. Traffic accidents accounted for 73 of 160 police deaths nationwide. Cpl. Dan Ward of the Tulsa Police Department’s Precision Driver Training Unit explains why driving on the job is so dangerous.
The Missouri law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty in 2010 were:
— Officer Dan De Kraii, 35, of the St. Joseph Police Department, was accidentally shot in the back and killed by a fellow officer during the training exercise.
— Hawk Point Police Chief Paul Fricke was killed in a single car accident. He was on duty when he lost control of his patrol car and crashed. Fricke was pronounced dead at the scene.
— St. Louis Police Officer David Haynes, 27, was killed in a car crash while pursuing a burglary suspect and another vehicle pulled out into his path.
— St. Charles Police Officer Grant Jansen, 42, was killed while driving home with his police dog in a one-car crash in St. Peters. His patrol car ran off the road, flipped several times and caught fire.
— Highway Patrol Sergeant Joseph G. Schuengel, 47, the pilot for Troop C, Weldon Spring, was fatally injured in a helicopter crash in St. Louis County as he was returning to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield. He was pronounced dead at the scene.