It's No Consolation to the Families of Local Cops Who've Died, but Cop Killings by Gunfire Dropped Big-Time in '08
The Death Penalty Information Center out of Washington D.C. sends along a feel-good statistic from 2008: The number of cops killed nationally by gunfire in the recently completed year dropped to its lowest level in about half a century.
Of course, that's no consolation for the loved ones of 33-year-old Phoenix police officer Nick Erfle (pictured), shot and killed on September 18, 2007, after he and his partner approached two women and a man who were jaywalking and obstructing traffic near 24th Street and Thomas.(Police later killed the man -- the shooting suspect -- at 27th Avenue and McDowell. He was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had taken a hostage after murdering Erfle.)
The stats compiled by the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association are encouraging. Forty-one officers were killed by gunfire in 2008 around the United States, a 40 percent dip from the 68 cops who died in a similar manner in 2007.
Experts on such things credit better training and equipment as the reason for the decline. That gives rise to an obvious question: With budget cuts looming or already in play just about everywhere, including cop shops, what might happen if police are forced to cut back on that training and equipment?
As a kind of aside, we also look forward to the day in 2009 that, just maybe, accused cop killer Donald Delahanty finally goes on trial for murdering veteran Phoenix officer Dave Uribe on a west Phoenix street.
We don't have to look up the date in our file because we'll never forget it: May 10, 2005. That would be going on four years now.
We were at the crime scene minutes after young Delahanty shot Uribe during a routine traffic stop, and later wrote about the whole case as the lead story in our "Murder City" series.
The beloved 47-year-old officer was just one of the many poor souls in blue who died at a gunman's hand that year. But we especially look forward to Delahanty -- a pathetic crystal meth sort who apparently killed as a way of getting his freak on -- sitting before a jury in a county courtroom. -- Paul Rubin