The calendar year 2016 was a good year for me personally. It was a great year for the company that I work for, Vigilant Solutions. But it was a terrible year for law enforcement in the United States. And that kind of puts a puts a damper on it being a joyous year. You see, we at Vigilant Solutions pride ourselves on offering tools that promote officer safety. Therefore, the statistics about line of duty deaths coming out of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) cause us alarm, personally and professionally. A review of most of the causes of these line of duty deaths don’t translate to what Vigilant offers, but that doesn’t give us any solace.

    2016 Line of Duty Deaths Increase

    The NLEOMF found that 64 officers were killed in firearm-related incidents in 2016 — a 56 percent increase over 2015 when 41 officers were killed. It’s the highest number of firearms-related deaths recorded since 2011 when the tally was 73.

    Those shooting deaths included 21 deaths in ambush-style shootings, “the highest total in more than two decades,” NLEOMF said in a statement.

    “We’ve never seen a year in my memory when we’ve had an increase of this magnitude in officer shooting deaths,” said Craig Floyd, President and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. “These officers were killed simply because of the uniform they wear and the job they do. This is unacceptable to the humane society that we are.”

    I have a Facebook account, reluctantly. But, one of the “good” things that have come out of my social media participation is two closed groups I belong to, “Club 23” and “Brothers Before Others”.  The groups are made up of active and retired LEOs where relevant topics are discussed and information is shared.  Too often the information shared are the details for upcoming services for fallen brothers and sisters. The reason that is a “good” thing is it provides a level of awareness across the country that didn’t exist before social media.  And, because of the awareness, there are constant transfers of tactical advice and reminders to be extra careful such as “watch your 6” and “head on a swivel”.

    An additional phenomenon is the fact that more off-duty and retired cops are now pulling over in their vehicles and watching police interactions as they occur to “back up” the cops. Is that really where we are today? Unfortunately, yes. I don’t maintain a Facebook profile image. I have reserved that space in memory of the fallen, either as they occur or in some cases on an anniversary. I change that picture TOO OFTEN. In fact, we just lost a brother and a sister in Florida on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, January 9.

    So, my law enforcement brethren, please be careful out there every day, all day long. Keep your head on a swivel and watch your six. Remember Vigilant has seven retired LEOs from local, state and federal agencies. Rest assure, Vigilant Solutions has your six as well.