As 2011 comes to a close, Florida has earned a dubious distinction: It’s the deadliest state in the nation for law enforcement officers.
According to The Tampa Tribune, 173 officers nationwide died while on duty in 2011. This is up 13 percent from 2010. Florida has had 14 of its police officers fall—making it the leader in law enforcement deaths in the country.
From the slayings of St. Petersburg Police Officers Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger in January to the most recent death of Lakeland Police Officer Arnulfo Crispin, the Tampa Bay area has wept as five of its servants in blue have been shot to death in the line of duty. From Brandon and Westchase to New Port Richey and beyond, the officers’ slaying have affected our entire region, making some residents more appreciative of those who serve while others have become .
“You know why they shot those cops? We don’t fear you anymore.”
Those were the words of a Land O' Lakes teenager to Pasco County Sheriff’s Cpl. Alan Wilkett on Jan. 24. They were spoken shortly after the shooting deaths of Baitinger and Yaslowitz were announced.
With 2012 just around the corner, Westchase Patch would like to know what you think about this distinction? What do you think we, as a community, could or should be doing to help keep those who protect us safer while on the job?