Home > Life In Blue > End of Watch 2011

End of Watch 2011

Here we are again at the first of a new year. It also marks my second “End of Watch” blog post. This is not my usual cheery, laughter filled writing. It is the hardest post I’ve written since this time last year. But, this post reminds us what being a police officer entails. This year I have chosen 4 Officer’s stories to share with my readers. Some give all.

2011 brought a total of 162 officer deaths, which is up 1% over 2010. 65 were the result of homicide by gunfire, 12 were murdered by vehicular assault, 5 died by physical assault and 2 were stabbed to death. Death by gunfire was up 11 percent from 2010. There were 59 officers killed in vehicle accidents, which was down 17% from the previous year.

Texas, and Florida top the list with 13 officer deaths per state. New York had 11 deaths and Georgia ties with California with 10 deaths each. In my home state of Arizona we had 3 fallen officers. There were 151 men and 11 women who gave their lives protecting the streets. The average age was 40 and the average tour of duty was 12 years and 7 months.

The End of Watch for an officer culminates at the funeral when his or her watch/patrol is turned over to fellow officers. The dispatcher who monitored the officer at their time of death makes the last radio broadcast and officially passes the watch to all his or her brothers and sisters in blue. This is the single most heartbreaking moment I’ve experienced as an officer.

DEPUTY SHERIFF SUZANNE HOPPER
Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio
End of Watch: Saturday, January 1, 2011

Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper was the first police death in 2011. Deputy Hopper was shot and killed after responding to a call of a window being shot out at a trailer park. She was investigating the scene and taking photographs when a male subject opened the door of his trailer then shot and killed her with his shotgun. Deputy Hopper is survived by her husband and 4 children. She was 40-years-old and had been an officer for 12 years.

PATROLMAN JONATHAN SCHMIDT
Trumann Police Department, Arkansas
End of Watch: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt was shot and killed when he and his sergeant made a stop on a vehicle for operating without insurance. The driver was placed under arrest for an outstanding warrant. Patrolman Schmidt opened the rear passenger door to remove a second male passenger when the man immediately opened fire. Patrolman Schmidt was shot in the neck but turned and pushed his sergeant out of the way before returning fire. Officer Schmidt was 30-years-old and had served as an officer for four years. He is survived by his wife and 3 children.

DEPUTY SHERIFF KURT WYMAN
Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, New York
End of Watch: Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Deputy Sheriff Kurt Wyman was shot and killed during a standoff following a domestic disturbance. A man had barricaded himself in his garage with a shotgun. Negotiations were underway when Deputy Wyman approached the man with his Taser and the subject opened fire and killed him. Deputy Wyman was 24-years-old and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. His wife went into labor upon hearing of her husband’s death and gave birth to his daughter. He is also survived by his 18-month-old son.

PATROLMAN DEREK KOTECKI
Lower Burrell Police Department, Pennsylvania
End of Watch: Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Officer Derek Kotecki was shot and killed while investigating the sighting of a wanted man at a local fast food restaurant. The suspect was hiding in the back seat of an SUV. As Patrolman Kotecki and his canine, Odin, approached, the man opened fire striking Officer Kotecki in the head, abdomen, and arm. K9 Odin was uninjured but had to be muzzled after refusing to leave his handler’s side. Officer Kotecki was 40-years-old and had been an officer for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and 2 children.

Choosing 4 of the 162 officers was a long tear-filled experience. I read every story at the Officer Down Memorial Page. Deputy Hopper was chosen because she was the first officer killed in 2011 and anytime a female officer dies, it hits close to home. Officer Jonathan Schmidt showed incredible heroism when he pushed his Sergeant away from harm and saved a life as his own slipped away. In Deputy Sheriff Kurt Wyman’s short life he served proudly as a Marine and then went on to wear a police badge. His baby girl being born upon his death will stay with me for a long time. Officer Derek Kotecki, your K9 Odin would not leave your side even after your spirit had left your body. That dedication could not go unwritten.

To the 162 men and women who gave their lives, I am honored to serve as a police officer and proud to help take over your watch. God bless you and your families along with your fellow officers who mourn you still. Rest in peace.

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Categories: Life In Blue
  1. January 1, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Thank you for this, Suzie.

  2. January 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I saw how a police officer is mourned when the son of a very long term friend, whom I had seen grow from a small boy to a fine young man, was put down in Dallas. He was a Sgt in the gang division and was executing a warrant to search premises. His funeral was worthy of a senior public figure. The respect shown his partner, a Captain in the same force, was incredible. The police community is at its finest at such times. This does not make it any easier to bear the loss of one who stands between us civilians and evil. Respect.

    • January 1, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Thank you John, I could not have said it better.

  3. January 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Bless you, Suzie. You and your family.

  4. January 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for reminding us, Suzie. You do them great homage.

  5. January 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Stay strong, stay safe, Suzie.

  6. January 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you, Suzie, for giving me an opportunity to be a part of honoring and remembering these officers.

    This is always a tearful read. Not just the heartbreaking stories of unnecessary loss. But I picture the procession you described in your police perspective post on how police honor their fallen (https://badluckdetective.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/bad-luck-cadet-17-the-police-perspective/).

    Stay safe!!

    • January 3, 2012 at 7:14 am

      Thank you Linda. I think of my own experience at Deputy Philip Rodriguez’ funeral every time I see another officer has died. It is an awesome tribute but so incredibly sad and hard to accept. We have already lost two law enforcement officers this year to gunfire.

  7. January 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

    An impressive tribute, Suzi. It made me pause for thought.

  8. January 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you. I just blogged for the first time in a while because the death of Margaret Anderson of the National Park Service hit close to home for me. Thank you for remembering these heros.

    • January 3, 2012 at 7:09 am

      I have been following the news story on Margaret Anderson and thinking of you. I am so sorry for this tragic loss to the National Park Service and Law Enforcement. My prayers are with you.

  9. January 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Beautifully written, Suzie. Praying God’s protection on you and your fellow officers.

  10. January 6, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I understand, probably more than most, what “End of Watch” means. I lost two of my friends from college and several fellow Special Forces soldiers in Vietnam.

    Stay careful, stay safe.

    • January 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you Tom, losing someone in the line of duty is so painful. I think we feel invincible until someone close to us falls.

  11. January 7, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Suzie, it breaks my heart to read this post. These brave officers will (of course) always live in the hearts of those who knew them, but, because of you, they will now live also in the hearts of many others.

    • January 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Thank you Ruby! Reading all the stories was rough because they all needed a special mention. Picking four (I chose three last year) was the hardest. Putting all sadness aside, i’ts wonderful to hear from you and I hope you plan on blogging soon!

  12. aspiring officer
    January 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you for this. It hit really close to home for me when I heard about Officer Deriek Crouse of the Virginia Tech PD. Im friends with another officer that worked with him at VT, and it’s never easy to hear of an officer being killed or that so many officers were killed in the line of duty.

    • January 18, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Thank you for your comment. Two weeks into this year and we are already seeing too many officer deaths. I had hope for 2012 and can only pray it gets better.

  13. January 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    These stories, Suzie, along with the knowledge of the other fine officers that died while serving to protect us have caused me feel a deep ache in my heart. But I want you to know that I appreciate them, and you for your service. We DO sleep better at night knowing that you are out there. Thank you!

    I will remember all these families in my prayers. And may God bless and protect you and your fellow officers.

    Big hugs,
    ~Virginia

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