Hat Tip to Lou . . .
2011 began with the murder of Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper in Ohio. January 1, Deputy Hopper was shot while photographing a crime scene. She left behind a husband and four children. Another officer was shot but survived.
According to her boss, Sheriff Gene Kelly,
Hopper once went six straight years without calling in sick and often put on charity events for the Special Olympics and other causes . . . Her personnel file is filled with accolades and commendations and always service before self.
By the end of January, four police officers were murdered in Florida during a week in which at least fifteen officers were shot:
[1/24/2011] In just 24 hours, at least 11 officers were shot. The shootings included Sunday attacks at traffic stops in Indiana and Oregon, a Detroit police station shooting that wounded four officers, and a shootout at a Port Orchard, Wash., Wal-Mart that injured two deputies. On Monday morning, two officers were shot dead and a U.S. Marshal was wounded by a gunman in St. Petersburg, Fla. On Thursday, two Miami-Dade, Fla., detectives were killed by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest.
Sgt. Thomas Batinger, St. Petersburg, Florida “just wanted to serve”
Two years ago, Sgt. Baitinger served as mentor for a student at Gibbs High School. Catherine Smith, the former family and community liaison at Gibbs, said he stood out among the 100 or so mentors who volunteer each year. ”Some police officers, you know, seem to have like a hard exterior,” Smith said. “This man was just so nice.” When the sergeant showed up, usually carrying a McDonald’s bag, the student’s face just glowed. “He loved him,” she said. “When that young man came down and saw the sergeant, oh my goodness, it was like he saw his father.” His hobbies were golf and poker.
Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, St. Petersburg, Florida “one of the best people I ever met”
He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, 40, and his children: Caleb, 12; Haylie, 8; and Calen, 5. He was on his way home after his night shift with his police dog Ace when he responded to a call for backup . . . It was like him to go. Just flip through his personnel file down at the police station. . . The night before he died, Yaslowitz helped his neighbor haul new furniture inside. ”He was a great guy, I’ll tell you,” said [Herbert] Kane, 77. “A great father, too, and a great husband. I never heard him even argue, ever. They were a great family and I’m just sick about it.”
Detective Roger Castillo, Miami-Dade, Florida “passionate about his job”
To the residents of his well-kept Davie street, fallen Miami-Dade police Detective Roger Castillo was the type of neighbor you wanted to have around. He was the dad you’d see on the front lawn, tossing around a football with his boys. The one who brightened up the cul-de-sac with Christmas lights and inflatables. A helping hand if you were struggling with a fix-it job. “If I’m fixing something, if he passes by, he will ask if I need help, do I need to borrow tools?” said Andre Jean-Louis, a real estate broker . . . On Thursday, as the tragedy unfolded in Liberty City, Castillo’s relatives and neighbors monitored the news and hoped he was safe. Slowly, through phone calls and text messages and hesitant knocks on the door, they learned that their friend was gone. “They stole him,” neighbor Lisa Tuffy said. “He made this world a better place.”
Detective Amanda Haworth, Miami-Dade, Florida “just a beautiful person”
Twenty-three years after she joined the Miami-Dade Police Department, Amanda Lynn Haworth, 44, was fatally wounded, along with another detective — both of them members of an elite team that served arrest warrants on violent suspects. Haworth, a single mother and police detective, loved her job, but was most devoted to her 13-year-old son, her stepmother said. “She took him everywhere she went,” said Diane Haworth, 66. She last spoke with her stepdaughter on Monday, she recalled. “She was just so sweet, so very sweet,” her stepmother said . . . she often played baseball with son, Austin, in their backyard, neighbors said. “Her son and her work were everything to her,” said neighbor Bernardo Gonazalez. She was a big fan of the Weston Red Hawks — the team her son played for — and attended all of his games. “She was just a beautiful, beautiful person,” Gonazalez said.
Why were Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo killed? Because the justice system failed them. Not once, but a dozen times. Because every previous time police risked their lives capturing the thug who murdered them, some lazy judge or overwhelmed prosecutor let him go:
[Johnny] Simms, 22, had been in trouble since he was a teen. Officers first arrested him at 14, for larceny. In all, Simms was arrested 11 times before he was an adult on charges including burglary and auto theft, state records show. He received house arrest in some cases, while others were dropped. His tattoos mirrored his lifestyle: a gun, flames, and the words “savage” and “10-20 Life.” In October 2005 and December 2005, Simms was arrested for separate armed robberies, one with a pistol and the second with a rifle. Prosecutors did not file charges in either case. In 2007, Simms — who also goes by “Sims” — went to state prison for a different 2005 armed robbery and auto theft. He was released in February 2009 on probation. Simms violated his probation when he was again arrested in June 2010, this time for robbery with a deadly weapon and selling cocaine. He pleaded guilty and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez sentenced him to one year in prison plus five years’ probation.But Simms served only one month because he had earned credit for time served earlier in a Miami-Dade jail. He was released in September 2010 on five years of court-mandated “administrative probation,” a low-level form of supervision that does not require regular check-ins with authorities. Simms hadn’t been out a month before he was again implicated in a violent act. According to Miami homicide detectives, Simms shot and killed Cornelious Larry, 27, on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of an Overtown apartment complex, 1535 NW First Pl. Miami police say Simms shot Larry to death after the man began yelling and cursing at Simms’ sister. Simms fled on a bicycle. Detectives searched for him for 12 days before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward signed an arrest warrant. The charges: first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Simms had been on the lam since.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Shoot, rob, burglar, shoot, beat: get off free. Our highest law enforcement officials in the Department of Justice grandstand about “alternatives to incarceration” and “emptying the prisons.” Our sensitive academics whine endlessly about America the police state as if thugs like Johnny Simms aren’t getting away with murder after murder, abetted by lousy criminal fetishists festering in courtrooms until good cops end up in caskets.
Detective John Falcone
Detective John Falcone, Poughkeepsie, New York. Wrestled a three-year old from a man repeatedly charged with domestic violence who had hunted down her mother and killed her moments earlier. Thanks to Detective Falcone’s sacrifice, the infant survived.
Detective Falcone is survived by his parents.
Alain Schaberger’s life began in Vietnam and ended when Officer Schaberger responded to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn, where a repeat felon with 28 prior arrests, mostly for robbery and burglary, pushed the young man over a railing to his death.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to Schaberger as a “quiet, gentle soul” who dedicated his life to service. “Alain knew a lot about grief,” Bloomberg said of the former Naval officer who joined the NYPD in July 2001. “One of his first assignments as a police officer while he was still in the academy in the days after 9/11 was to go to checkpoints around Ground Zero and help the families who came there to cope with their horrific losses. He brought a lot of comfort to those people.” Addressing Schaberger’s family, including fiancée Shoshone Peguese, Bloomberg said, “I think he would tell you to remember not the last tragic moment of his life, but the many wonderful moments that came before it.”
Schaberger was a 10-year NYPD veteran who was born in Vietnam. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old with his father – an Army vet who worked as a civilian guard at the U.S. Embassy when Saigon fell in 1975 – and Vietnamese mother. Raised in East Islip, L.I., Schaberger grew up on tidy block of single-family homes and played basketball at the local public school. . . Schaberger often returned to East Islip to visit with his parents and sister, Tracey, a nurse with two kids, neighbors said. ”It’s tragic. It’s unbelievable,” said neighbor Mitchell Greif. “He was a great guy from a good family. He was always pleasant and polite. His parents are devastated.” Schaberger’s mother – a hairdresser – and father were too distraught to speak with reporters. ”It’s a shame,” said Bill Conley, 59, an electrician who has lived next-door to the Schaberger family for 25 years. “It’s always the good ones that die young.”
Officer Jonathan Schmidt
A policeman who died in the line of fire trying to save his sergeant’s life has been labelled a hero. Officer Jonathan Schmidt, from Trumann, Arkansas, shoved his superior out of harms way when a gunman unexpectedly opened fire during a routine arrest. He was able to return fire on Jerry Lard despite the fact he was shot in the neck and bleeding. The father-of-three then begged for his life. . . Schmidt worked as a night patrolman so he could spend days with his three children. He had a 12-year-old daughter and sons aged ten and 18 months. Schmidt recently received a commendation for saving an infant’s life by giving the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Trumann School District Superintendent, Joe Waleszonia said: ‘He wanted to clean up this community. He wanted it to be as safe for the community as it could be.
Kenneth Gary Vann
Sergeant Vann was assassinated while stopped at a red light: his patrol car was struck multiple times. A week later, the killer was caught by police. He had randomly chosen to kill officer Vann.
Sergeant Kenneth Gary Vann
[During the investigation] Detective Louis Antu, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the mood was somber but dedicated at the command post Sunday. Many officers, including Antu and the sheriff, were out of town for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, when they were called back to Bexar County. “We’re not robots; we’re all taking time to reflect,” said Antu, who joined the Sheriff’s Office with Vann. “But it was a terrible killing, and everybody wants answers. We’re working for the family, to bring them justice.” Antu said the two men were “kids” when they joined the Sheriff’s Office. Vann was an excellent officer who loved his job and family, Antu said. Vann was married to sheriff’s Sgt. Yvonne Vann and leaves behind two sons, ages 19 and 15, and a daughter, 25, from a previous marriage, officials said. Ortiz was at his hunting lease in Rocksprings when he heard about Vann’s death. “We’re real saddened by the randomness of this incident; there’s really no rhyme or reason,” Ortiz said. “It’s very difficult because we don’t have anything new, but we’re not going to rest until we find the guy who did it.”
Kurt Wyman, daughter born the day of his murder.
Deputy Sheriff Kurt Wyman
Whitestown, NY — Fresh out of high school in 2005, Kurt Wyman joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Activated in 2008, he served seven months in Iraq and won the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Wyman also became an Oneida County sheriff’s deputy in 2007. He rejoined the sheriff’s office when he returned from overseas. In 2010, he was rookie of the year. He twice was awarded the Sheriff’s Grand Cordon Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a detail of officers. “His commitment not only to his country but to his county is second to none,” Sheriff Robert Maciol said. Wyman demonstrated his commitment to the ultimate degree Tuesday. The deputy, 24, was hit by a shotgun blast as he and two other officers tried to take an armed man into custody after a six-hour standoff in the rural town of Augusta. He died after being rushed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center.
Wyman left behind his pregnant wife, Lauren, their 18-month-old son, his parents and a sister.
His wife gave birth after hearing of Wyman’s murder. That’s June.
Officer Brent Long
Officer Long and his canine partner Shadow were shot while serving a felony warrant.
A fallen police officer’s K-9 partner is now being honored. Fallen Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long’s family cut the ribbon on Shadow’s Trail in Terre Haute. Shadow served alongside Officer Long on the force. The trail is beside Brent Long Memorial Way. It’s part of the expansion of the city’s trails and a way to honor the police dog’s service. ”They did a good job for our department and to have Brent’s memorial way here and Shadow’s Trail right next to Brent, they’re partners even after Brent’s gone,” Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse said.
Jeremy Henwood, San Diego
Jeremy Henwood, a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves and police officer for the San Diego Police Department, was shot and killed, Aug. 7. He had walked into a fast food restaurant to buy something to eat and also buy a meal for a 10-year-old boy who happened to cross his path. Moments later, while sitting in his patrol car, a man drove up beside him and fired the fatal shot. Henwood was 36.
Officer Henwood, moments before he was shot
Henwood served as an enlisted infantryman before going on to Officer Candidate School to receive his commission with the Marine reserves. The Canadian-born hero became a United States citizen in order to receive his commission with the Marines. He deployed twice to Iraq, and after his third deployment – this time to Afghanistan as a company commander with Combat Logistics Battalion 2 – Henwood returned to the U.S. in February to continue serving as a police officer with the SDPD. During the memorial ceremony, Henwood was posthumously promoted to the rank of major.
18-year veteran New Castle, Delaware Lt. Joseph Sczcerba was stabbed to death while attempting to subdue a rampaging offender. Lt. Sczcerba and his wife performed volunteer work at a variety of places. His service to the community was memorialized by seventy local culinary school students who baked 10,000 cookies in his honor and delivered them to police officers. 6,000 people attended his funeral.
Derek Kotecki: His loyal canine wouldn’t leave his side after he was shot. He wanted a “noisy” funeral.
Patrolman Kotecki and K9 Benny
Lower Burrell, PA, Patrolman Derek Kotecki
was shot and killed while investigating reports of a wanted man at a local fast food restaurant. The man was wanted for a shooting ten days earlier and for threatening police officers during the previous week. As Patrolman Kotecki and his canine, Benny, approached, the man suddenly opened fire. Patrolman Kotecki suffered a fatal wound. The subject then fled but was approached by other officers as he attempted to climb a fence behind the restaurant. He was killed during an exchange of shots with the responding officers. K9 Benny was uninjured but had to be muzzled after refusing to leave Patrolman Kotecki’s side.
Patrolman Kotecki had served with the Lower Burrell Police Department for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Thomas Babinsack, one of five people to eulogize Kotecki, said they had talked about the aftermath of such a situation while driving to a memorial service in April 2009 for three Pittsburgh officers gunned down in a SWAT siege. They discussed whether it was respectful to use their flashing lights and sirens in a funeral procession, and Babinsack said he’s since learned the protocol is to use lights but no sirens — which police vehicles observed on their way to Kotecki’s funeral. But Babinsack said Kotecki wanted something else. ”Tom, I want you to promise me something: If something ever happens to me, I want everybody to know I was here,” Babinsack remembered Kotecki saying. “I want the fire trucks and police and ambulances going with lights on and sirens.” ”He wanted a parade and he’s going to get one,” Babinsack said from the pulpit of the noisy funeral procession that was to follow.
Officer James Lowell Capoot, 45, of the Vallejo Police Department was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 17, 2011 in Vallejo, Calif. A loving and devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle, officer, coach, neighbor and friend, Jim lived a full and extraordinary life. Born Nov. 2, 1966 in Little Rock, Ark., Jim attended local schools in Little Rock and graduated from John L. McClellan High School in 1985, where he was a distance runner on the cross country and track teams. Jim enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 18 and was stationed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, where he met the love of his life, Jennifer Eileen DeCarlo. The two were married at St. Basil’s Catholic Church in Vallejo on Aug. 29, 1987. Jim left the Marines in 1989 but remained on Active Reserve through 1993. In 1990, he joined the California Highway Patrol and began his career as a peace officer. And, in 1993, he joined the Vallejo Police Department. For 19 years, Jim distinguished himself as a Vallejo police officer while endearing himself to the Vallejo community. He served as a motorcycle officer, motorcycle instructor, driving instructor and SWAT officer. He received two Vallejo PD Medals of Courage, one Life-Saving Medal and many other department commendations. And, in 2000, Jim received the Officer of the Year Award. Jim coached the Vallejo High School varsity girls basketball team and in his second year led the Apaches to a 25-7 record and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship. Jim left the Apache bench in March 2011 to bring into his home the two children of close friends who were killed in a motorcycle accident in January.
John David Dryer, tended horses, his son. Shot during a routine traffic stop.
John David Dryer found his calling as a teenager when he nursed to health a horse that had become entangled in barbed wire. He turned his grades around, earned his veterinary science degree from Ohio State University, opened his own successful practice — and then became a police officer. . . . At home, Officer Dryer was a doting father to his autistic son, Benjamin. In an interview with the Post-Gazette in 2000 about training bloodhounds, he said his son gave him motivation. ”My son Ben, who is 5, was very sick when he was born. In fact, a couple of times I thought I was going to lose him,” he said. “I think this is why I want to search for missing people, particularly children.”
Another Tampa Bay Cop in this bloody year: Arnulfo Crispin.
Since Crispin was shot the night of Dec. 18, [Carlos] Cortes and Officer Julio Ruiz have been by his family’s side, offering any assistance they could. Both officers learned more about their friend and why he always had a big smile on his face. “His family has been so humble and so giving,” Ruiz said. “They put people and family before themselves.” Cortes agreed. “It’s a large family and they don’t have that much,” he said. “At one point, they asked my wife and I to come and eat with them. They didn’t have a lot of food, but they made sure we had something to eat. They don’t have much, but what they do have they will give to others.” That mentality explained a lot about the officer they knew.
Before leaving the family’s house Tuesday night, the officers gave the large family their phone numbers and promised to keep in touch. Although Crispin can’t be replaced, Ruiz said, the Crispin family has “gained 235 brothers and sisters at the Lakeland Police Department.”
Chicago Officer Clifton Lewis: “he took me in as his child”
The off-duty Chicago police officer slain in a West Side convenience store Thursday night had just gotten engaged on Christmas Day, family friends say. Clifton Lewis, 41, an eight-year veteran assigned to the Austin District’s tactical team, was pronounced dead Thursday at Stroger Hospital, officials said. Two men had walked into the M & M Quick Foods about 8:30 p.m. at 1201 N. Austin Blvd. in the Austin neighborhood, shot the officer, and then grabbed his gun and star and fled, sources said. . . . Lewis . . has received 81 commendations for his police work, had proposed to his girlfriend, Tamara Tucker, only after asking her 18-year-old son, Keyonta Thomas, for permission. On Christmas morning, Lewis pulled her son aside and asked for her “hand in marriage,” said Thomas, 18. ”I am just at a loss for words,” said Thomas, who said he saw Lewis as a father. ”He was just as a father (to me)… He took me in as his child.”
Addendum: Special Agent John Capano
of the ATF was killed yesterday as I was writing this. He was on his way to pick up prescriptions for his ill, 81-year old father when he encountered an armed robbery at the pharmacy.
James Capano had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve at his son’s house. The family is grieving the death of James Capano’s wife of 57 years, Helen Capano, mother of John Capano. She died of cancer on Dec. 18. James Capano said his son had volunteered to share his explosives expertise with military personnel in Iraq. “He knew what he was doing, and he was the best one they had,” James Capano proudly said. A tearful Rep. Peter Kingconsoled the elder Capano on the blood-stained sidewalk outside the pharmacy New Year’s morning. King’s wife was slain agent’s fourth grade teacher. “I’ve known John Capano for years,” King said, recalling giving Capano an award for bravery during a four-month tour of Iraq and Afghanistan. “He had a unique personality, a great personality,” King said. “Everybody loved him.”
James Capano, Agent Capano’s father. His wife, Agent Capano’s mother, died two weeks ago
Capano was the last officer killed in the line of duty in 2011, bringing the total to 163, 66 of which were gun killings. Thousands of other police were shot or attacked but survived.
Assassination-style killings — where assailants randomly shoot an officer or lie in wait for unsuspecting targets, are on the rise. Is cultural anger directed at police — by idiotic Occupy protesters, among others — contributing to an atmosphere in which police are targets? I think the vast majority of responsibility for the presence of dangerous offenders on our streets lies with the courts and civil rights activists who have succeeded in creating a consequence-free world for criminals. But every little bit of scapegoating counts. In 2012, it’s time to start speaking up for cops.