Vargas: Four officers killed in September across the country, which speaks to the dangers officers face every day

By Joe Vargas

The month of September did not fare well for police officers across the country, and even locally here in Southern California. This month, four police officers in the United States have been killed at the hands of criminals.

Officer Garret Hull of the Fort Worth, TX police department was shot and killed on Sept. 14 while attempting to take three armed robbery suspects into custody. The trio had just held up a bar and were fleeing the area when one of them shot at the pursuing officers, shooting Hull in the head. Hull was married and had two daughters.

Funeral for Officer Garrett Hull

Portion of the funeral procession for Officer Garret Hull, Fort Worth Police Department. Rest In Peace Brother.Original video courtesy of Joe Pena.

Posted by Law Enforcement Today Radio Show on Saturday, September 22, 2018

Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland was struck and killed in Georgia the next day, Sept. 15, by a suspect being pursued by deputies. The suspect went on to strike and kill a motorcyclist as well. The department has five police officers and serves a city of 1,300 residents.

An astonishing showing of support for Ludowici Chief Frank McClelland

Posted by Robert Catanese on Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kenneth Kunze III was shot and killed on Sept. 16 while investigating a suspicious person call. The driver of a stolen vehicle exchanged gunfire with Kunze. Both the deputy and the suspect were killed. Kunze leaves behind his wife and child.

Deputy Kunze's Last Radio Call.

Listening to the last radio call for Deputy Kunze, you can't help but let the emotions flow. Deputy Kunze, you were and are the definition of a true hero! Rest easy, we have the watch from here brother! 🖤💙🖤#DeputyKunze

Posted by Sedgwick County Sheriff on Friday, September 21, 2018

Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Mark Stasyuk was shot and killed on Sept. 17 while investigating a disturbance call at a Pep Boys automotive store.  He and his partner had just entered the store when the suspect opened fire. An “extensive” gunfight ensued, during which Stasyuk was shot in the head and his partner wounded. The suspect was shot and wounded by responding officers.

Dispatch Recordings from Deputy Killed

27-year-old Sacramento Sheriff's Deputy Mark Stasyuk who was shot dead in Rancho Cordova today attended Sacramento State and was just married in March. His partner 28-year-old Deputy Julie Robertson is heard in the dispatch calls, calling for help after she was also shot in the arm. She is expected to recover. The two were responding to a disturbance call at Pep Boys.

Posted by Call Kurtis on Monday, September 17, 2018

Four officers killed in just four days across the country. This only captures of bit of the every day risk officers take. The killings speak volumes about the dangers officers encounter every day. Officers encounter violent suspects every day and most of the time, due to training and sheer luck, manage to get out alive.

In Los Angeles County this past week, sheriff’s deputies survived three different encounters with armed suspects.

Two deputies were shot on Sept. 19 in the upper body after a car chase with documented gang members. At the end of the pursuit, the suspect came out of the vehicle with guns blazing. One suspect was killed and one was wounded.

Two deputies on Sept. 24 attempted to pull over a vehicle suspected in an armed robbery. One of the occupants of the vehicle exited the vehicle with a handgun and a shooting ensued. The suspect was wounded and another occupant of the vehicle was arrested.

Two deputies on Sept. 24 were contacting the occupants of a suspicious vehicle when one of the occupants pulled out a handgun. During the ensuing struggle, one of the deputies was wounded and the suspect was killed.

‘There is no routine call, there is no routine traffic stop,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said during a press conference addressing the rash of shootings.

Police officers have to continually walk the fine balance between being accessible and approachable yet knowing that in seconds their lives could be on the line.

It’s not paranoia when the threats you face are real and no amount of training will prepare an officer for every circumstance.

Joe is a retired police captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.