Three months after a veteran police officer in Springfield Massachusetts was killed in the line of duty, the death of officer Kevin Ambrose still reverberates. Police across the country are reviewing procedures for dealing with domestic disputes involving fellow law officers. Efforts continue in Massachusetts to boost survivor benefits for the families of public safety professionals killed on the job. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
Although ever police officer knows the inherent risk for a violent flare up in a domestic dispute, officer Kevin Ambrose, a 27 year police veteran, may have been put somewhat at ease when the stranger he encountered outside an apartment complex on June 4 flashed a badge. The man was a New York corrections officer assigned to Rikers Island who had come to Springfield to retrieve a TV from the apartment of his estranged girlfriend. She had obtained a restraining order.
29 year old Charlene Mitchell’s fear of 35 year old Shawn Bryan turned out to be justified. Bryan shot and killed officer Ambrose, critically wounded Mitchell, and then shot and killed himself.
Springfield police department spokesman Sergeant John Delaney said the circumstances have led to reviews of police procedures for responding to calls involving fellow law officers.
Delaney said police officers responding to a domestic dispute will typically find probable cause to search the people involved for weapons.
In the aftermath of the slaying of officer Ambrose, the first Springfield police officer to die in the line of duty in more than 25 years, Mayor Domenic Sarno instructed the city’s law department to draft rules for police weapons searches.
In the state legislature, Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera filed a bill to give an automatic posthumous promotion in rank to public safety officers killed in the line duty. This would increase the pension benefits to a surviving spouse or children.
The bill is retroactive to December 2010, so Coakley-Rivera said it would help the family of officer Ambrose, as well as a Massachusetts State Trooper who died recently after 8 years in a coma, the families of police officers in Woburn and Westfield, and two firefighters in Worcester.
Springfield police have been selling t shirts and other police memorabilia with proceeds going to a memorial fund to help the Ambrose family. He left a wife, two children and a grandchild. A benefit golf tournament is being held at Ludlow Country Club on September 28th