The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was down in California for 2009, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports. Eight officers statewide were killed, including one Culver City cop, Sgt. Curtis Massey, who was the victim of a wrong-way driver on the 10 freeway early on the morning of January 28, 2009. No Los Angeles police officers were killed in the line of duty with four days left in the year. (It's not clear if the fatal motorcycle crash of 47-year-old Officer Kenneth Aragon, who died more than an hour after leaving drinking festivities at the Police Academy in Elysian Park earlier this month, would count).
Even with a Oakland gun battle that took four officers in March, California's officer deaths represent a decrease compared to 2008, when 13 died on the job, including two Los Angeles Police Department officers (Randal Simmons, killed in a shootout, and Spree DeSha, taken in the Metrolink collision that killed 25 people).
Nationwide, 2009's numbers were encouraging. They represent the fewest officers killed in the line of duty in a half century, according to the memorial fund. But that statistic, it states, is tempered by a "disturbing increase in the number of officers who were killed by gunfire, many of them in brutal, ambush-style attacks."
The organization states that 48 officers were fatally shot in 2009, compared to 39 last year -- a 23 percent increase.
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" ... We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a state of complacency," states the group's CEO, Craig W. Floyd. "There are nearly 60,000 criminal assaults against our law officers every year in this country, resulting in more than 15,000 injuries. And, over the past decade, more than 1,600 officers have been killed in the line of duty. Many of the cold-blooded career criminals our officers confront each and every day do not think twice about assaulting or killing a cop."