Impacts of law enforcement line of duty deaths felt across profession

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The shooting death of a Terre Haute police officer is now the third experienced by Hoosier law enforcement in roughly eight months. Agencies across the state say each loss takes a significant toll.

In just about nine months’ time, Indiana Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan, Boone County Deputy Jake Pickett, and Terre Haute police officer Rob Pitts have all been killed in the line of duty. At the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, each death serves as a stark reminder to recruits of the dangers of the job.

“They may have the attitude that ‘I’m bulletproof, I’m Superman,’ but still there will be a point in time once they leave this facility they will realize how fragile life is, and then it will hit hard that this could happen to me,” Captain David Younce said.

Younce says line of duty deaths can also influence recruiting. He says after incidents, some recruits have second thoughts about joining the force.

“There are some young people that will think, ‘well this could happen to me, why am I doing this?’” he said.

Indianapolis FOP President Rick Snyder says the biggest concerns and impacts of police line of duty deaths are felt by the families of the officers. He adds that the ripple effects of each death go beyond any comparison.

“It’s the loved ones that we leave at home. They don’t sign up for that. That’s not acceptable to them,” he said.

Snyder says often with line of duty deaths the focus is put on honoring the officer’s life and commitment to service. He agrees that it should be this way, but adds that a next step of identifying ways to prevent those deaths needs to follow those ceremonies.

“The problem is after we complete the honoring, and the services, and the memorials then everybody goes their separate ways and we never get back to talking about the issues that are leading to this,” he said.

Snyder says conversations and efforts to improve officer safety need to be ongoing priorities for departments and communities across the country. He emphasizes the importance of communities being involved if any solutions are to be achieved.

"What that’s going to entail is communities, residents, neighborhoods, individual people saying enough is enough, we’re not doing this anymore. And if you attack a police officer, you injure them, you assault them, you’re doing that to one of us," he said.