As we welcome in a New Year we all hope and pray that normality will return to the United States of America in 2021. Last year will go down in history as a year that saw record attacks on law enforcement officers and not all the attacks were perpetrated by cop haters and criminals. We saw too many politicians band together against that thin blue line that separates the civil society from anarchy and chaos yet none can explain their contempt for law enforcement. NYC Mayor Bill Di Blasio disbanded the highly successful Street Crime Unit that took thousands of illegal guns off New York City streets annually, only to see the homicide rate skyrocket! The predictable result was thousands of residents fled New York City and State for stable communities in other states where anarchy and lawlessness did not rule.
On October 3rd, 2020 Police Officer Jacob Hancher of the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Police Department was shot and killed as he and other officers responded to a domestic incident. A man opened fire on the officers, killing Officer Hancher and wounding a second officer. The subject was found deceased a short time later. PO Hancher served with the Myrtle Beach Police Department for only five years.
Training isn’t usually looked upon as being dangerous but the recent death of Sergeant Harry Cohen of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in California reminds us that training carries risks. Sgt. Cohen suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in training with the canine unit. Sergeant Cohen had served with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for 24 years. He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.
The Houston PD is mourning the loss of Sergeant Harold Preston, a 41 year veteran who was weeks shy of retirement who was shot and killed as he and other officers responded to a domestic disturbance call. Police were called to the scene by a woman who had been locked out of her apartment by her estranged husband. Other officers had been to the apartment two additional times in the preceding days for domestic disturbance calls. Sergeant Preston and the other officer spoke to the woman for approximately an hour before her 14-year-old son managed to unlock the apartment door and they encountered his father who was holding a gun. The man then opened fire, striking Sergeant Preston numerous times, causing his death. The suspect surrendered about one hour later. Sgt. Preston is survived by his elderly parent who he cared for.
A part-time police officer with the Mangham Police Department in Louisiana was killed on November 5th, 2020. Police Officer Marshall Waters succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained on October 17th, 2020, while conducting a traffic stop near the Franklin Parish / Richland Parish border. The vehicle had just been stolen during an armed commercial robbery. As Officer Waters stepped from his patrol car the driver of the vehicle shot him once in the abdomen. The round struck Officer Waters below his vest and damaged his femoral artery. The man fled the scene and was arrested in Franklin Parish several hours later. Officer Waters remained hospitalized until succumbing to his wound. Officer Waters served as a part-time police officer with the Mangham Police Department and was a full-time EMT for the Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service.
More and more perpetrators are challenging law enforcement and actually opening fire on them as our nation degrades. On November 9th, 2020 Houston, Texas Police Sergeant Sean Rios was shot and killed while en route to start his shift at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. He encountered two vehicles and an armed man on the roadway and became engaged in a shootout with the subject. Sergeant Rios was fatally wounded in the shootout. The subjects in both vehicles fled the scene and remain at large. Sergeant Rios had served with the Houston Police Department for 25 years and was assigned to the Airport Division. He is survived by four children, parents, brother, and two cousins who also serve with the Houston Police Department.
The holidays never offer a respite from the specter of danger and death. PO Cassie Johnson of the Charleston, West Virginia Police Department died on December 3, 2020 when she succumbed to gunshot wounds that she sustained the previous day while responding to a parking complaint. Despite her wounds, PO Johnson heroically returned fire and wounded her assailant. The man was arrested a short distance away. Officer Johnson was only 28 years old.
On December 27, 2020 K-9 Loki of the Boone County, Illinois Sheriff’s Office was killed when his handler’s patrol car was struck by a drunk driver on I-90. His handler was conducting a traffic stop and was speaking to the driver of the stopped vehicle when the patrol car was struck from behind by a limousine being operated by a drunk driver. K9 Loki was transported to an emergency veterinary hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The loss of a special K-9 partner tears at all our hearts and to have an empty bed at Christmas time makes it all the worse.
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.
In June of 2020 the NPDF Executive Board took the unprecedented step of expanding the Safe Cop reward program to include rewards for the arrest and conviction of any protestor/domestic terrorist who assaults a public safety officer by using a vehicle or by an act of arson. 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 to justice those who shoot or kill police officers. 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. We pray that God protects our law enforcement officers and blesses their families who have sacrificed so much.
Sgt. Mike Barry (Ret.), Port Authority of NY & NJ Police Department
Administrator, NPDF Safe Cop Program