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First Six Month's LODD Rate Highest in 30 Years

Posted: August 15th, 2007 04:25 PM PDT

 

BRANDON, Florida --

The shooting death of a Florida sheriff's deputy early Wednesday added another grim statistic to a year whose first six months recorded more U.S. police officers killed on duty than any such period in almost 30 years.

"It's the most dangerous profession in America," said Craig W. Floyd, chairman of the Washington-based National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, which tracks the numbers of officers killed on duty. "You never know when the odds are going catch up with you."

Hillsborough County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Harrison, 55, was fatally shot in his car shortly after leaving a drunken driving checkpoint he was manning in this community east of Tampa. He was the third Florida deputy to be shot in a 10-day span, and the second to be killed.

In the first six months of the year, 101 police officers died on duty in the United States - more than any such period since 1978, Floyd's group said. That included 39 who were shot - up from 27 during the same period last year - and 45 who died in traffic accidents.

Floyd, who learned of Harrison's slaying at a National Fraternal Order of Police conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday morning, said he cannot remember three officers shot in the same state in separate incidents in such a short span.

Harrison's suspected shooter barricaded himself in a house nearby and was fatally shot later by officers with a police commando team.

The slaying came on the heels of two other shootings. On Friday, Broward County sheriff's Sgt. Chris Reyka, 51, was fatally shot by an unidentified attacker while he was looking for stolen vehicles behind a drug store.

On Aug. 6, off-duty Broward County deputy Maury Hernandez was shot in the head after pulling over a motorcyclist. The suspect was arrested moments later at a nearby condominium. Hernandez, 28, remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Floyd called this year's 44 percent increase in fatal police shootings across the country "alarming."

The reasons are not immediately clear, he said, but the numbers are edging up as the violent crime rate rises.

The 101 killed during the first six months of this year compares with 145 officers killed nationally in all of 2006, including nine in Florida. That includes 52 who were shot, 45 who died in traffic crashes, 15 struck by a vehicle and 14 who died from job-related illnesses.

One in 6,000 officers dies in the line of duty every year, Floyd said.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist called the recent spate of shootings in his state "very sad."

"These people who work in law enforcement - as well as firefighters - these first responders put their lives on the line each and every day and it breaks my heart whenever any of them lose their lives," Crist said in Orlando on Wednesday.

"We can never thank them enough and my heart and prayers go out to the family."