Line of duty deaths by gunfire up 1200% in 2016

Medford, Ore. — Every day law enforcement officers around the nation, put on the uniform to protect and serve their communities. It’s a high risk job, and officers say they know the dangers they face each day. But now, those risks are growing, and this year, line of duty deaths by gunfire are up 1200%.

“Going home at the end of the day, is job 1,” Sgt. Don Lane of the Medford Police Department says.

In Sergeant Don Lane’s 17 years of service, he’s never had to use deadly force. But as the number of line of duty deaths skyrocket, safety on the job is now a daily conversation.

“You put yourselves in that situation, knowing you’ve probably done that same thing 6, 8 or 10 times in a shift,” Sgt. Lane says, “you contact someone you know had a warrant, you’ve arrested them several times and all of a sudden theres’ a scuffle and a gun is produced and shots are fired.”

Sgt. Lane is referring to last months case in Seaside, Oregon where Sergeant Jason Goodding was killed while serving a warrant.

And it’s not only happening in Oregon, law enforcement deaths are up all across the country. At this time last year, not a single law enforcement officer had been killed in a shooting. As of March 1, 2016  here have been 12.

Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls says the numbers are humbling.

“It makes me sad,” Sheriff Falls says, “it’s a reminder of the inherent dangers that we have in this job.”

We reached out to the Southern Oregon Law Enforcement Spouses, who say it’s too dangerous to even speak on the issue.

Sheriff Falls says its a testament to how fragile public trust is today.

“Whether it’s right or wrong, it doesn’t matter,” Sheriff Falls says, “our profession is getting beat up, and we’re getting beat up a lot about how we’ve interacted with the public and it’s tough to swallow sometimes when cops are out there getting shot and killed in the line of duty.”

And while it makes officers a little more cautious as they approach their daily duties, they say it won’t stop them from putting on the uniform each day and doing the job they took an oath to do.

To put things in perspective, there are a large number of officer-involved shootings where first responders are not injured and another person is killed. According to The Washington Post in 2015, nearly 1,000 people were killed by law enforcement officers. In 75% of those cases, police were under attack or defending someone who was. The Post also reports that in 2015, 18 officers were charged with felonies, many of those cases are still ongoing.

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