November was a terrible month and 2016 is proving to be a terrible year for the men and women in law enforcement. As of this Wednesday, 60 police officers have been shot and killed this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a 67 percent increase over this time last year. During the month of November alone, twelve officers were killed by gunfire.
What makes the problem worse is the disturbing trend of officers being intentionally targeted as police tactics and shootings by police, particularly in cases involving minorities, are facing greater scrutiny.
Four police officers were shot last weekend – one fatally – and in at least two of the incidents, investigators allege that the assailants were looking to kill police officers. A gunman angry over the fatal police shootings of black men killed five police officers in Dallas and wounded nine more at a July 7 protest – the rampage was the deadliest day for police since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Put another way, this year is shaping up to be the first in Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black’s almost 30-year career that the number of police killed by firearms will be greater than the number of police who die in accidents. He and other police chiefs are wondering why they aren’t hearing a lot more outrage from the public.
One member of the public spoke up in Tacoma, Washington, this week.
Kristi Croskey owns the Tacoma, Washington, home where a domestic disturbance call resulted in a deadly police stand-off Wednesday. Tacoma police officer Reginald J. “Jake” Gutierrez was killed after being shot by a 38-year-old man — who was fatally shot by police hours later.
“I don’t want to hear about Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter” Creskey said. “I do not want to hear about the police officers being inhumane and shooting people unnecessarily or any of those things. I want to say that the Tacoma Police Department handled this matter with such professionalism despite their own being shot. I want to say that this did not have to occur. I want to say that when you make poor choices, and the response is someone being killed, if that may be the situation — I want you to know that the Tacoma Police Department did any and everything that they could to protect and serve. They wanted to protect the life of him, his family, and anyone else who was involved in this matter. I do not want to hear anything about the Tacoma police Department did wrong — I want people to start taking a long inventory of themselves and see what they did wrong.”
Croskey said she was in the home at the time of the shooting to pick up some items she had left there.
Croskey, who moved out of the home about seven months ago, said she knew the suspect and his wife and didn’t know of any problems in the relationship.
“I’m caught off guard just like everybody else,” Croskey said.
The stand-off began around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Police Chief Don Ramsdell said animal control officers were called to the home because of a report of an injured dog.
They came across the suspect’s wife, who had been locked out of the home. Animal control then called for backup from Tacoma police and Gutierrez responded along with his partner.
The two officers entered the home with the help of the homeowner, Ramsdell said. Gutierrez and his partner went upstairs, which is where Gutierrez was shot multiple times. His partner returned fire then helped get the suspect’s wife out of the house.
Gutierrez was transported to Tacoma General Hospital for surgery. Police announced his death around 9 p.m.
SWAT moved into the home around 3:30 a.m., but it was a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy outside the home who shot and killed the suspect through a bedroom window, police say.
“We negotiated through the night. Negotiations failed. We went in. Took one of the kids when we had a chance and (the suspect) grabbed the other kid. One of our officers felt he had a shot. He took it,” said Det. Ed Troyer, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.
Ramsdell later said one child was rescued from the porch. The other was rescued after SWAT confronted the suspect.
Gutierrez was 45 years old and had been with the department since 1999.
Choking back tears, Chief Ramsdell said, “He’s a model police officer. He’s highly dedicated to his profession. He’s highly dedicated to his community. And he demonstrated that every day that he came to work.”