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In 2018 we lost 144 police officers in the United States. This is a 12% increase from 2017. Most of these deaths were firearm and traffic related. Officer deaths from firearms increased 15% in 2017 and traffic deaths increased 9% in 2017. The average age of these officers was 41 with an average of 12 years of service and an average of 2 children they leave behind. [Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 2018 End of Year Report] The number of officers lost in 2018 is 100% too many.
Our Chief, John Bryfonski, has stated “The first thing on my mind when I wake up each day and the last thing I think about at night before bed is citizen and officer safety; it is constantly on my mind and I infuse that concern in every aspect of what I do. That includes making sure our officers receive the very best training and skill sets for if they can’t protect themselves they can’t protect the public; to thinking about and implementing programs, policies and procedures that address citizen and officer safety; there is no more important element of what I do than that.” While Bedford has been able to grow funding for necessary training over the years, nothing can prepare you for the loss of a fellow officer; be it in your own department or another. Our hearts go out to those departments and families who lost one of their own.
Many people do not think about a police officer’s day and what it entails. A simple traffic stop could be the reason they do not go home to their family. Someone may have a warrant for their arrest, are pulled over for speeding and decide they don’t want to go to jail making the decision to take that officers life. It could be an officer is struck by a passing vehicle while assisting someone who is pulled over or while directing traffic. The point is, what is routine and seems simple enough to an officer, can quickly become fatal.
While we have been very lucky in Bedford and New Hampshire, where there have been zero officer fatalities, the fact is anything can happen at any time. The most we can do is be as prepared and well trained as possible. We hope for 2019 to be a year when police officer fatalities in the United States not only decrease, but are non-existent and we hope you have our back, just as much as we have yours.