Now that the weather is warming up and we’re starting to see the curve of Coronavirus peak after it cast a pall upon our nation, people will hopefully be out and about soon, enjoying the weather and shaking off the “cabin fever’ that winter and the virus inevitably brought. But the criminal element will also be very active because crime doesn’t take a holiday. 2020 has already been a difficult year for law enforcement. As this is written, 37 police officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Some from gunfire, others from car accidents and still more from the fallout of the 9-11-01 attack on our nation. On Friday the 13th of March 2020 Corporal James O’Connor of the Philadelphia, PD was killed after being gunned down when he sought to serve an arrest warrant for murder on a suspect. The killer was 21 years old who was wanted for a previous homicide. He was ultimately taken into custody, but Corporal O’Connor left a wife and two children behind. We have also seen 19 police officers lose their lives to a new silent killer, COVID-19 also known as the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic.
Police deaths favor no particular gender. Officer Tiffany-Victoria Enriquez and Officer Kaulike Kalama were a male/female team who were shot and killed while responding to a stabbing call at a home in Honolulu. An elderly woman had filed eviction paperwork against her tenant, who suffered from mental health issues as had been falsely calling 911 repeatedly in recent weeks. The landlord and tenant became engaged in an argument when the tenant stabbed the woman.
Officer Enriquez was one of the first officers who arrived at the scene and tended to the victim outside of the home. As she and other officers walked toward the house the man opened fire, killing her. Officer Kalama was shot moments later as he and other officers arrived on the scene. Both officers were shot in areas above their bulletproof vests. After shooting the officers, the man barricaded himself inside of his home and set it on fire. The suspect and two women were presumed dead in the fire. Officer Enriquez had served with the Honolulu Police Department for seven years and had previously served with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee. She is survived by three daughters and one grandson.
And the carnage didn’t only affect line officers, but we also lost heroic K-9’s in the line of duty. One such hero was K-9 Hondo who was shot and killed while attempting the apprehension of a wanted subject in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. K9 Hondo and his handler were assisting the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team serve the warrant. The wanted parolee exited an apartment and pulled out a handgun as he fled on foot. As K9 Hondo attempted an apprehension he was shot by the suspect as task officers fired at the subject.
The wanted subject was also killed. K9 Hondo had served in law enforcement for over four years. He sacrificed his life to protect his handler and his loss affects us all.
The National Police Defense Foundation is taking an active role in helping to identify and apprehend anyone who shoots or kills a police officer. Under the leadership and guidance of Executive Director Joseph Occhipinti we offer a ten thousand dollar reward ($10,000) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who shoots or kills a member of the law enforcement community. As the newly appointed administrator of our very successful Safe Cop Program I intend to become even more active within the Law Enforcement Community and to go anywhere we are needed to assist in the operation to bring who shoot or kill police officers to justice. Your tax-deductible donations go a long way toward helping us achieve our goal and this quarterly newsletter is designed to keep you abreast of our activity and to encourage you to get involved in this worthy endeavor. I look forward to hearing from all of our members who have suggestions about how we can be even more effective in achieving our goals during my tenure. May God protect our law enforcement officers and their families who have sacrificed so much.
Sgt. Mike Barry (ret.)
Port Authority of NY & NJ Police Department