Gunmen have murdered six police officers throughout the U.S. since Dec. 31, including the killing of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick in Colorado Springs on Monday.
Something is seriously wrong in Colorado. Three of the country’s past six police officer murders have been along the Front Range, in three counties that make up only 0.46 percent of the country’s population.
The men leave behind wives, children, friends and a law enforcement community that has come under siege.
A suspect shot Flick, three other local officers, and a civilian during a vehicle theft investigation. It was three days after officers from Colorado and neighboring states participated in the funeral procession of 31-year-old Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm.
Five-year Deputy Scott Stone, shot in the abdomen Monday, remained in fair and stable condition Tuesday at Memorial Hospital. Shrapnel hit Sgt. Jake Abendschan, a 16-year veteran, whom a hospital released Monday. Also released from that hospital was Colorado Springs police detective Marcus Yanez, who was shot in the groin.
The suspect died at the scene.
We cannot imagine what the families of our law enforcers go through each time a new shift begins, sending loved ones into the country’s most hostile environment for police officers this year.
“With the recent loss of now three deputies and many others injured, there’s no denying the grave impact this sequence of shootings is having on our state,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday.
“We will once more come together to provide sympathy and strength for the deputy’s loved ones and pray for the recovery of those injured; however, we also must come together and say enough is enough.”
El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said Monday’ shootings come in the midst of diminishing appreciation for law enforcement.
“This is a tough business,” Elder said. “Unfortunately, in the past few years there has been a lack of respect for the men and women that are there to protect our communities, and frankly it just shocks me, it shocks my staff, it shocks the leadership of public safety throughout the country… It’s got to end.”
It’s got to end, but no one is sure how.
Hickenlooper understands the magnitude of this spate of murders and should call for a special investigation into all associated circumstances.
We need to know what, if anything, these killings have in common. Were drugs and/or alcohol involved? Were guns obtained in violation of state and federal laws? Is mental illness a factor? Why is the state’s violent crime rate rising, creating more risk for law enforcement? We need a comprehensive forensic investigation into everything in the mix. We need information.
Meanwhile, the public cannot do enough to show appreciation and respect for the men and women of law enforcement. In schools and in homes, adults should educate children about the important role of first responders in keeping them safe and free.
When their lives are in danger, Colorado’s first responders never hesitate to put on the badge and answer our calls — while their families sacrifice, worry and wait for another shift to end.
— The (Colorado Springs) Gazette,