The number of line of duty law enforcement deaths due to firearms has jumped 68 percent from last year, according to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. From Jan. 1, 2015 to July 23, 2015, there were 19 officer fatalities in the nation due to firearms. Using the same timeframe for this year, there have been 32.
Just in the month of July alone, a sniper killed five officers in Dallas, Texas, with a gunman taking the lives of three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisianna. Both suspects were angry over the recent police-involved shooting deaths of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Michigan.
In response to the officer deaths, the Gaithersburg Police Department (GPD) now has officers responding to all calls with at least one backup officer to enhance their safety.
“There are inherent risks with being a police officer, but the recent targeted attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge are very concerning,” said Police Chief Mark P. Sroka. “All officers continue to receive the highest quality of training and equipment to enable them to provide professional police services to the citizens. Officers continue to perform their duties in furtherance of the mission to serve and protect in spite of the challenging times facing law enforcement throughout the nation.”
Gaithersburg isn’t the only local department to make this call. Hours after the Dallas shooting, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier ordered officers to answer all calls for service in pairs. Baltimore City and County put their mandate in effect until further notice. Law enforcement agencies in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia made similar changes.
Montgomery County Police (MCP) Chief Tom Manger was also one of seven top cops asked to participate in a mid-July summit at The White House to discuss attacks on officers and their opinions on the current state of police relations with citizens and public officials.
Amid these difficult times, local departments have received much support from the community. “During the last several weeks, many citizens have come to the station to express their respect and support of law enforcement,” Sroka said. “The officers appreciate their encouraging words that serve as a reminder of the outstanding partnership that exists between the citizens and the police in the City of Gaithersburg.”
MCP has said via their Facebook page that officers have received many words of encouragement, letters and kind gestures from members of the public.