Hillsborough County Residents Urged To Focus On Safety For Local Blue

By Tamas Mondovics

Recent headlines that read, “Law Enforcement Firearms Fatalities Spike 78 Percent in First Half of 2016” or “Ambush Killings of Officers Increase More than 300 Percent” are just a fraction of the disturbing and sad reality of violence against members of law enforcement throughout the country.

Cities like San Diego, Baton Rouge and Dallas took center stage as topics of discussion in July, not as summer vacation destinations, but places where officers were killed after being ambushed by a lone gunman.

“Each day some 900,000 men and women work to keep our communities safe, and we owe each of them a debt of gratitude,” declared National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) President and CEO Craig W. Floyd. “All American citizens should be outraged at the number of officers who have been targeted, shot and killed this year.”

Shining some light on the reality of violence against police in many communities, NLEOMF issued a new report with preliminary data through July 20, which revealed that 67 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2016—an eight percent increase over the same period last year (62).

Key facts included, that firearms-related fatalities (32) spiked 78 percent in the first half of this year from 18 during the same period last year.

Ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers have increased more than 300 percent from the same period in 2015, as 14 officers were shot and killed in ambushes, seven were killed stopping a suspicious person and five officers were killed while executing a tactical arrest or high-risk warrants, the reports said.

Texas led all states with 13 officer fatalities; followed by Louisiana with seven officer deaths. California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia all lost three officers (as of the writing of this article) thus far in 2016.

Amidst the increase of such violence, however, many are finding ways to show their support for their local law enforcement agents, police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

“Thankfully, the vast majority of Americans clearly support and appreciate the vital role law enforcement plays in our society,” Floyd said. “Now is the time for all law-abiding citizens to partner with law enforcement in support of safe communities.”

During a recent speech from the White House press briefing room, President Barack Obama put things in perspective for the nation when he said, “Regardless of motive, the death of these brave officers underscores the dangers that officers face every day.”

The President added, “Nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks against police are attacks against all of us and the rule of law.”

To support deputies locally, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Larry McKinnon encouraged residents to remember some of the basics.

“Just a simple thank you from someone in the public has a long lasting, positive impact on our deputies’ morale,” McKinnon said, while emphasizing that over the last couple of decades, the sole function of fighting crime has become only a part of HCSO’s mission. “We have significantly increased our community involvement and interaction,” he said.

Poised to begin his fourth term in office, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee acknowledged the recent increase of violence against officers in some parts of the country, but spoke highly of the countywide support his deputies have been receiving.

“We are in a unique situation here in Hillsborough County, because of the tremendous show of public support,” Gee said adding that to earn the support, HCSO as a whole is truly here to serve the community and work hard to do just that. “We all live here and have a vested interest to make our community a safer place to live and work.”

With safety and security a common goal, HCSO’s #Your Support Matters logo, which has been making its way around the county, has received much approval, giving testimony to the fact that public safety is and will remain an anchor of community partnership. A copy of the full report, “2016 Mid-Year Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report,” is available at http://bit.ly/2aXne67.