As the leaves start to turn beautiful shades of crimson as autumn announces her arrival and our economy is slowly coming back from the precipice of decline and the threat of coronavirus seems to be declining our political leaders have doubled down on their anti-police messaging by canceling New York’s famous San Genaro Festival and other Italian American parades that celebrate Italian heritage. One Italian hero was celebrated in addition to Christopher Columbus was Detective Giuseppe (Joseph) Petrosino, a member of the NYPD’s Italian Squad who infiltrated an Italian-based anarchist organization that was suspected of ties to the King Umberto assassination in 1900. During his mission, Petrosino discovered evidence that the organization intended to assassinate President William McKinley during his trip to Buffalo, New York. Petrosino warned the Secret Service, but McKinley ignored the warning, even after former NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, who had by this time become vice president of the United States, vouched for Petrosino’s abilities. McKinley was assassinated during his visit to Buffalo on September 6, 1901. Yet, Mayor Di Blasio will not allow gatherings to honor Detective Petrosino or Columbus, yet he has authorized protest marches against law enforcement by Black Lives Matter. Di Blasio claims that these protests are more important than traditional celebrations of Italian heritage so he has prohibited traditional parades because of the alleged threat of coronavirus while simultaneously allowing BLM and other anarchist groups to protest law enforcement, unencumbered. That irony isn’t lost on any of us and it is one reason why so many police officers are retiring early.
While New York’s Di Blasio showed contempt for law enforcement as he defunded the NYPD two police officers were gunned down in cold blood on July 11, 2020 when they responded to a domestic incident in McAllen, Texas. Police Officers Ismael Chavez, a 2 ½ year veteran and his partner PO Edelmiro Garza were ambushed and shot down before they could defend themselves. The perpetrator committed suicide as additional units responded.
Police work is inherently dangerous but the recent unrest has put officers who bring their police cars home on edge to an unusual degree. PO Scott Hutton of the Alexander, Arkansas PD was shot and killed when he went to pick up a radio car from another officer at that officer’s home. The officer who answered the door put his gun in his left hand to look through the peephole and the weapon accidentally discharged killing PO Hutton. This tragic incident cost one life and one career as the officer whose weapon accidentally discharged was charged with manslaughter.
Canine Ike served with the Maricopa Police Department for eleven years, He was a male Belgian Malinois who succumbed to heat exhaustion on Friday, June 216, 2020. The NPDF leadership and this author is especially attached to our K-9 partners and this hurt never lessens and is similar to losing a regular member of the service because our K-9’s will readily give up their lives for us. K-9 Ike is a hero.
On August 2, 2020 a fourth law enforcement official died following a July drunk driving crash allegedly caused by an illegal alien who was allowed to remain in the United States on former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Ivan Robles Navejas, a 28-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, was arrested and charged by the Kerr County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office with six counts of intoxication assault with a vehicle and three counts of intoxicated vehicular manslaughter. In July Navejas was allegedly driving while intoxicated when he hit and immediately killed three members of the Thin Blue Line motorcycle club — a group of active duty and retired members of law enforcement. At the time, nine others were critically injured, including 39-year-old Niles, Illinois Police Sgt. Joseph Lazo. On July 31, the Niles Police Department announced that Lazo had become the fourth victim of the crash.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency confirmed that Navejas had been in the U.S. through the DACA program — a federal authority that kept him in the country despite multiple run-ins with the law. At the time of the fatal crash, Navejas had been out on bail for a 2018 case in which he allegedly hit a man with his truck — pinning him up against his truck and another vehicle — before biting his ear off and biting his back! For that incident, Navejas was detained on a $65,000 bail. He posted that bail and was out awaiting trial at the time of the crash that killed three other police officers. Currently, Navejas is in Kerr County Jail on $500,000 bail.
On August 20th, 2020 Ranger Brendan Unitt drowned when he was thrown from his patrol boat while searching for a missing boater on Horsetooth Reservoir in Colorado. Ranger Unitt had served with the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources for only six (6) months.
September 10th, 2020 brought us the death of Deputy Sheriff Ryan Hendrix who was shot and killed when he responded to a vehicle tampering and shooting call. A citizen called 911 at after discovering two subjects breaking into a vehicle. The citizen retrieved a firearm and confronted the subjects but one of the subjects had stolen a firearm from the vehicle and the two exchanged gunshots.
Deputy Hendrix and other deputies arrived on scene and confronted the subject, who was wanted on a warrant for parole violation. The man initially complied with commands but then grabbed the handgun and opened fire, striking Deputy Hendrix. The other deputies returned fire and killed the subject. The second subject was apprehended.
Deputy Hendrix was transported to a local hospital where it was determined he did not survive.
Garden variety car accidents are always a threat to law enforcement. We put thousands of miles on our cruisers annually without giving it much thought but danger is always there.
Sergeant Ethan Kaskin was killed when his department vehicle was struck head-on on the Highway 24 Bridge, in Anderson County, South Carolina on September 25, 2020. An oncoming vehicle crossed the center line and struck his vehicle head-on, causing him to suffer fatal injuries. Sergeant Kaskin had served with the Anderson Police Department for 12 years and was assigned to the Investigations Unit. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren.
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 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