Today’s Investigative Special Report – November 27, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “The Ultimate Sacrifice” When Law Enforcement Officers Lose Their Lives in the Act of Saving Others

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial lio...
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial lioness statue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
On Saturday, November 24, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department lost one of their Deputy Sheriff’s, Deputy Scott Ward, 47, a 15 year veteran. Also, another Deputy was shot and is currently in treatment at the local hospital in critical condition for being hit in the chest by the shooter, a Michael Jansen, 53, who was shot and killed at the scene by the Deputies. The incident occurred in Fairhope, Alabama.
The ultimate sacrifice is difficult to deal with for those who are related to him, best-friends with him, worked with him, and etc. of the fallen deputy. In a moments time a life is taken without no rhyme or reason, and sadly life goes on without a misstep or much thought about a law enforcement officer who previously saved others by losing his life.
The death of law enforcement officers occurs too often and by individuals who either have mental problems, committed or was about to commit a crime, or was recently released by the Department of Corrections. Generally, most of the murderers of law enforcement officers have had multiple contacts with the criminal justice system for one reason or another.
In 2011 according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) there were 72 felonious officer deaths. This is one too many and there needs to be laws which enhance the penalties and punishments of anyone who assaults or takes the life of a law enforcement officer. Too often assaults on law enforcement officers are view by the prosecution as the type of case which can be plea bargained. This attitude has to change and prosecutors need to prosecute those individuals who are violent or kill any police personnel.
The FBI report, issued in May of 2012, analyzed the 72 felonious deaths as follows:
Of these 72 felonious deaths, 19 officers were killed during ambushes (14 during unprovoked attacks and five due to entrapment/premeditation situations); five were slain while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances; 11 were killed during traffic pursuits/stops; five of the fallen officers interrupted robberies in progress or were pursuing robbery suspects; and four died while responding to disturbance calls (one being a domestic disturbance). Six officers died during tactical situations; one died while conducting investigative activity; one officer died while handling or transporting a prisoner; and 20 officers were killed while attempting other arrests.
Deputy Baldwin’s death could be considered an ambush scenario. According to several media reports, Baldwin and two other deputies approached Michael Jansen who was standing outside on his porch. When the deputies were close enough Jansen began shooting at the three officers. Jansen killed Baldwin and shot another deputy. Jansen was killed and pronounced dead at the scene.
It is difficult for law enforcement officers to deal with losing the death of a cohort. This author understands what it feels like to lose a fellow officer and a friend. In 1982, Office Michael Raburn was stabbed to death by a mentally disturbed man. Raburn knocked on the man’s door to serve an eviction notice. Upon opening the door the man reached Raburn with a fighting sword stabbing him to death. Raburn was able to get five shots off before dying. Twenty some hours later the Seattle Police Department SWAT entered the man’s residence and he was shot over 25 times. The standstill came to an end, but the pain of the entire incident lives with me every day.
Law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty not only leaves the community nervous and upset, but the impact in the law enforcement community begins a process of questioning whether the officer acted according to policy and procedures. Many questions are raised about could he have done something different than what he did or was it just his day to die.
Judging a law enforcement officer’s decision making prior to his death is easy for everyone to do as they weren’t at the incident and under the same circumstances what would they have done different? Being a Monday night quarterback is something everyone finds themselves doing when the situation is personal and professional.
The psychological and physiological impact of the officer’s family, friends, and other professional who knew the officer varies in many ways, but is predicated upon the individual. The officer’s in the community change the way they use to do things. In making traffic stops they have their hand on their gun. When they respond to a domestic violence situation, they have their guns out. Their new behavior is more out of fear than anything else. The loss of one of their own makes them think and rethink how each step they take to be considered, reconsidered, reconsidered, and on and on.
The mental and emotional process takes years to find some resolution. The loss of a fallen officer isn’t something which comes and goes. Mentally it is challenging to get back to work and perform the job as if everything was back to normal. The emotional up and down feelings come and go especially when there is a violent situation presented for them to deal with.
Some officers change the way they deal with citizens when dealing with a situation. Many citizens enjoy talking with their hands; some like to touch others when they are expressing their side of a situation. Law enforcement officers do not like to be touched when they are dealing with individuals during specific situations such as domestic violence, assaults, and etc. The officer believes that the closer a perpetrator gets to him; the less likely the officer will be able to evaluate specifically what the individual may do.
In telling perpetrator’s to back up and quit touching them may seem to a bystander as the officer being rude or disrespectful, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If previous situations have caused the officer or another officer to be harmed when the perpetrator is close, invading the officer’s space, and begins touching the officer, this may result in the perpetrator being arrested. When an officer has been hurt or killed by violent individuals after the killing officers will be additionally sensitive to their surroundings and the people they deal with.
In an arrest of a violent individual who was apprehended for a theft situation, upon trying to arrest the perpetrator he assaulted the arresting officer. Then a local law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty. The mental and emotional temperament of the other officers may become apparent. In this situation a court hearing was held and the judge determined that the perpetrator who was with a friend at the time of the theft didn’t have knowledge of the theft, but ran because his friend ran.
The altercation between the arresting officer and perpetrator was also dismissed, the judge ruling that the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” was the reasonable thing to do. The officer who was in court lost control and slammed the door as he walked out of the courtroom. The judged ordered the officer into his chambers and explained that his behavior was unacceptable.  However, understanding that a local officer had been killed a couple days before, the judge allowed the officer to vent his feelings.  The judge was satisfied with his reasoning that being a law enforcement officer isn’t a walk in the park and when a perpetrator assaults the officer the ruling by the court should be to hold the individual accountable. Maybe this person will not be allowed to be released into the community where he will take it to the next level and kill an officer.
The death of a law enforcement officer, like Deputy Baldwin and the other 72 officers killed in the line of duty in 2011 is unacceptable. No matter how prepared an officer is or how he approaches a situation by policy and procedure, he may lose his life. If the death of an officer occurs the ripple effect through the law enforcement community is difficult to gauge and understand. Most importantly officers will evaluate and examine what the officer could and should have done and hopefully his death will be a learning tragedy for others to learn from.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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