One of the saddest facts of 2011 is that 173 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in the United States this year.
Lt. Tommy Collins, Wichita Falls Police Department, is a symbol of courage for peace officers in the North Texas area.
He sacrificed his life to save the lives of two fellow officers who were pinned down by sniper fire in the summer of 1989. He also saved the lives of several construction workers that tragic day who were also the targets of the same sniper.
In 2011, Florida led all the states with 14 police fatalities.
Texas was second in this sad category with 13 fallen peace officers.
The deaths of Lt. Collins and those who were killed this year are a reminder of the dangers that law enforcement officers face each day they pin on the badge.
They and their families live with the knowledge that every day an officer goes to work, could be his last day on this earth.
In 2010 there were 162 in the line of duty deaths and in 2009 there were 116 such deaths.
The dramatic increase in officer deaths the past two years is a matter of great concern.
Attorney General Eric Holder said, “This is a devastating and unacceptable trend.”
Another disturbing statistic is that 68 officers were shot and killed during 2011 compared to the 59 shot to death in 2010.
These shocking statistics by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund don’t even tell the whole story.
Today across this country, approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others.
They serve with bravery and distinction.
Federal statistics show that violent and property crime rates are at historic lows because of the successful work law enforcement officers do.
Wichita Falls had only one murder reported for the entire year of 2011 because of the great work of the police, sheriff’s office, Department of Public Safety, District Attorney’s Office and other agencies which protect this city of 105,000.
Although not killed in the line of duty, the law enforcement community of Wichita Falls and Wichita County mourned the passing of former police officer and deputy sheriff Eddie Nahquaddy during 2011.
Lt. Collins’ family members even today continue in his footsteps with son J.T. Collins working as an officer for the Wichita Falls Police Department.
Daughter Vicki Collins also follows his example as an investigator for the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Maureen Shelton summed up law enforcement officers pretty well when she said in an officers’ memorial service, “Down these mean streets a man must go….who is not himself mean….who is neither tarnished nor afraid….a hero.”
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