As we pray for LAPD Officer Steven Jenkins’ complete and speedy recovery, the attempt to murder him reminds us of the inherent danger of domestic violence calls.
Officer Jenkins, a 22-year Department veteran, remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition after being shot early Monday as he and other officers approached a Sylmar home in response to a domestic violence call.
These calls are among the most dangerous for officers across the country. A study by the California Commission on POST showed that over a five-year period, domestic violence calls in California led to one in five on-duty deaths of California peace officers.
Ed Nowicki, an expert police trainer and former Chicago officer, says once on scene, police officers responding to domestic disturbances are stepping into evolving volatile situations in which assailants are often emboldened by the fact that they are in their own home. His comments were published in December 2010 following the murder of Arlington, Texas police officer Jillian Smith, who responded to a domestic violence call.
Assailants may be more likely to act aggressively toward those who they perceive as intruders in their castle, even if those intruders carry guns and badges, said Nowicki. "There are so many landmines when you go on a domestic. It's one of the most dangerous calls around. If you know you are taking on bank robbers, to me, that's an easier call."
The tragic reality is that the shooting of Officer Jenkins was only the latest in an increasingly alarming trend of deadly violence towards police officers. After a two-year decline in law enforcement fatalities, 2010 was one of the deadliest on record for law enforcement in nearly two decades. A total of 162 officers died in the line of duty last year, up from 117 in 2009. So far in 2011, 52 have lost their lives, a 20 percent rise from the same time last year.
Officer Jenkins faces a long road to recovery, as Chief Beck told the Police Commission on Tuesday. He will have to undergo a considerable number of medical procedures, including reconstruction of his jaw. “He is a true hero,” the Chief said. “This is a tragedy.”
Fortunately, Officer Jenkins is not among the grim statistics cited above. The LAPD is truly a family for him; both his wife and son are LAPD police officers. We are here to support him and his fellow officers in every way possible.