National statistics point to an increase in deadly violence against law enforcement officers. A 36 year veteran policeman in Springfield Massachusetts was the latest to lose his life in the line of duty when he was shot dead earlier this week while trying to resolve a domestic dispute. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Before Springfield police officer Kevin Ambrose lost his life Monday after being shot twice, it had been almost 27 years since a member of the Springfield Police Department had died in the line of duty.And, the last law enforcement officer slain on the job anywhere in Western Massachusetts was in 1999. But, there have been close calls.
Just last April, a man holed up in an apartment with an automatic rifle and many rounds of ammunition shot up an area of downtown Chicopee, targeting police as they responded, and wounding Massachusetts State Trooper John Vasquez.
Vasquez was shot in the hand and leg and has six weeks of physical therapy left. Despite his brush with death he’s anxious to put his blue uniform on again and report for duty.
Vasquez, State Trooper Keller Williams, Chicopee Police Officers David Benoit and John Jusino were awarded the department’s Medal of Valor, its’ highest honor this week.. Eight other law enforcement officers were awarded meritorious service ribbons for their actions on that day.
The ceremony was attended by two hundred people, including police officers, state troopers and their families. It had a special poignancy given the tragic events in Springfield. Medal of Honor recipient Jusino says every officer knows the risks.
Last year was one of the deadliest years for law enforcement in recent memory, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. It reported 177 officers died in the line of duty. And, firearms caused the most deaths for the first time ever.
Chicopee Police Chief John Ferraro said there’s no question police work has become more dangerous.
The shoot-out in Chicopee that resulted in the gunman taking his own life after a two hour standoff began as a domestic dispute. Officer Ambrose was shot and killed in Springfield as he tried to protect a woman and her infant child from an estranged boyfriend, who , after killing the officer and wounding the woman, took his own life.
Chicopee Police Officer David Benoit says a domestic dispute is one of the most dangerous calls police answer.
Police say they’ve seen a rise in calls to help resolve domestic disputes which they blame on financial stress resulting from the recession.