Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 3, 2011 – Rapid City, South Dakota

A Rapid City (S.D) Police officer was killed and two others were wounded exchanging gun fire with four men they approached at a city intersection late Tuesday afternoon.

This tragic event is one, of many, this year that has concerned me deeply. Last year in the first six months of the year 86 officers had lost their lives in the performance of their duties. This year, through June 30th, 98 officers have lost their lives. This is a 14 % increase over last year at this time. Although a 14% increase in officer fatalities over last year is surprising the manner in which officers are being killed is alarming.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund firearms-related fatalities against officers have reached a 20-year high, increasing 33% from 30 to 40 officers shot and killed in 2011 thus far. I am watchful of these disturbing trends and have taken positive action to ensure our firearms training program is more focused on “combat” rather than simple marksmanship.

On May 6, 2011, I attended a Public Safety Round Table in Washington, D.C. with Attorney General Eric Holder. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the national increase in officer fatalities by means of a firearm.

As a result of this meeting I directed my Staff to conduct a thorough review of our training program. This review is complete and my Staff acted by enhancing the firearms training program through reality based training (RBT). RBT is not a new concept; however, given the current national situation an emphasis on the fundamentals of RBT will provide yet another tool for the officers to hone their survival skills.

I am confident through effective firearms training, and enhancements to our overall training curriculum through the use of RBT, the men and women of the Overland Park Police Department will be well prepared for a violent encounter.