As the New York metropolitan area slowly gets back on track after the Coronavirus pandemic we saw police officers in Minneapolis become embroiled in a controversial incident that resulted in the death of a man in custody. The death of George Floyd bust our nation apart at the seams with riots, more police shootings, and the nuance of police officers being run down by perpetrators using SUV’s. The NPDF was outraged by Mr. Floyd’s death as were all concerned Americans and people were right to be outraged and to make their voices heard through the process of peaceful protest. However, anarchists saw an opportunity to destabilize our nation from within and they didn’t hesitate to take advantage of it. As this is written 115 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2020. That’s a 42% increase over this time last year. In all of 2019 147 police officers were killed, so this is a significant uptick from this same time last year and it’s particularly stunning when one realizes that our nation was shut down for four months due to an outbreak of Coronavirus. In addition to guns, knives, and now SUV’s being used to kill or maim police officers another silent killer lurks among us now; one that’s not so easy to recognize or to defend against. Covid-19 has become the # 1 cause of death for on-duty police officers nationwide for 2020. So far, it has killed 51 officers while gunfire has resulted in 26 deaths and 5 have been killed by drivers using SUV’s.
Texas leads the nation in Officers killed. By gender, 103 have been male while 12 were female. The average officer had 15 years of service at the time of their death. Two K-9’s have also been killed. The oldest officer killed in the line of duty was 77 year old Deputy Sheriff James Blair of the Simpson County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi who was gunned down when an involuntary psychiatric he was transporting gained control of his sidearm and killed him with it.
Coronavirus took the life of Sgt. Charles “Rob” Roberts III of the Glen Ridge, New Jersey Police Department on May 11, 2020 when he was infected while simply doing his job. Sgt. Roberts was only 45 years old and he left a wife and three children. In early 2020, thousands of law enforcement officers and other first responders throughout the country contracted COVID-19 during the worldwide pandemic due to the requirements of their job. Many of these first responders died as a result of the virus.
Gun-related crime is always with us and our Safe Cop program was originally established to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who shoot police officers. Sergeant Stephen Williams of the Moody, Alabama Police Department was shot and killed on June 2, 2020, after responding to a call at a motel. While the Sergeant was on the scene at least one suspect opened fire, fatally wounding him. Several hours later, two suspects were taken into custody after barricading themselves inside the motel room. Sergeant Williams also left a wife and three children.
Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department in California was shot and killed as he and other deputies investigated reports of a suspicious vehicle on June 6, 2020. Deputies had originally responded to reports of a suspicious vehicle that contained guns and bomb-making materials in Boulder Creek. As they arrived at the scene, they observed the van driving away and followed it to a home. The vehicle pulled into the driveway and the occupant immediately ambushed the deputies with firearms and improvised explosive devices. Sergeant Gutzwiller was killed and the other deputy was wounded. The subject then carjacked a vehicle and fled the area. He was located a short time later and engaged officers in another shootout. A California Highway Patrol officer and the subject were both wounded before the man was taken into custody. Sgt. Gutzwiller is survived by an expectant wife and young child.
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