Police officers honor fallen colleagues

May 16, 1997


Staff Writer

Throughout Washington County and across the county, police officers remembered fallen colleagues Thursday as National Police Week neared an end.

Hagerstown Police Chief Dale J. Jones and several other officers attended memorial ceremonies in Washington, D.C. for the 116 officers killed in the line of duty in 1996. Their names were etched into the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

In Hagerstown, city officials placed blue ribbons on parking meters downtown and some flags flew at half staff.

Despite the somber nature of the memorial, police officers have much to celebrate this year: The number of federal, state and local law enforcement officers killed last year dropped 30 percent from 1995.

It was the lowest number since 1959, according to the Memorial News, a Washington-based newsletter for law enforcement officials.

"A 30 percent decline in one year is significant," Jones said.

Police officials pointed to declining violent crime, better training and more sophisticated protective devices as reasons for the drop.


Sgt. Laura Lu Herman, a Maryland State Police spokeswoman, said violent crime has been in retreat since 1990. She said state troopers are better-equipped and better-trained each year.

Herman said troopers are told to have backup whenever they respond to a domestic disturbance or stop a car that was used in the commission of a felony.

"Officer survival training is a big part of an officer's training now," she said. "Years ago, there wasn't an officer survival program. It just didn't exist."

The last time Hagerstown City Police lost an officer in the line of duty was in 1975. But while crime has declined nationally, city officials worry about disturbing trends locally.

Jones noted that the city's crime lab examined 37 firearms taken off the street during the first three months of this year - up from 12 during the same period last year.

The most serious crimes increased 14.5 percent the last two years and lesser offenses have jumped 25 percent, Jones said.

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