There’s good news in a national midyear report on job-related deaths of law enforcement officers: So far, there have been far fewer than in 2022.
That’s largely due to a substantial drop in the number of COVID 19-related deaths, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which produces the report.
Overall, deaths reported from Jan. 1 to June 30 decreased 66% from the same period a year ago, from 153 in 2022 to 52 this year.
“There is no good news in reporting the death of even a single police officer,” said Bill Alexander, the group’s interim chief executive officer. “Yet based on this preliminary data, we are cautiously optimistic that conditions may be improving for our law enforcement professionals who willingly put themselves at risk to serve and protect.”
Two of the fallen officers are from Illinois — Chicago police officers Areanah Preston, who was shot May 6, and Andres Vasquez-Lasso, who was shot March 1.
Gun-related deaths is the No. 1 category this year, with 25 officers fatally shot so far. But that is eight fewer than in the 2022 midyear report.
Eleven officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, compared to 30 last year.
Two deaths occurred as officers deployed tire-deflation devices to stop a fleeing vehicle.
And then there is the “other” category, which includes COVID-19. Only two officers have been reported as succumbing to the viral disease this year, compared to 72 in the first half of 2022. Aurora police Sgt. Kenneth Thurman and Officer Brian Shields were among last year’s COVID victims.
Two Baton Rouge officers died in a helicopter crash. A Florida police chief died when he hit a deer. Eight suffered “medical events.”
A Chicago woman is raising money to honor the late Kane County police dog Hudson, who was killed in a shooting May 24.
Kane County sheriff’s Detective Luke Weston, left, accepts a painting of his late partner, police dog Hudson, from artist Lindsey Vidmar.
– Courtesy of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office
Lindsey Vidmer made a painting of Hudson and donated it to his handler Wednesday. She is selling prints of it. Money will go first to buy a memorial brick, to be placed in the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s police dog and horse memorial. The rest of the money, she says, will be given to the Kane County Sheriff’s K9 Fund.
To order a print, visit Vidmer’s Instagram page, @milaspaintedpaws.
Grant to get guns
Suburban police departments are receiving thousands of dollars in state grants to help them take firearms away from people who have had their right to bear arms revoked.
Among the recipients is the Aurora Police Department, which is getting $37,501 through the Illinois State Police. It was in Aurora in 2019 where a man who shouldn’t have been armed — his Firearm Owner’s Identification card had been canceled about five years earlier — opened fire on former co-workers at the Henry Pratt Co. factory, killing five before police took him down in a shootout.
The shooting led to a renewed push by state police to remove firearms from those who have had their FOID cards revoked. The grants also will fund efforts to take guns from those who are the subject of a firearm restraining order or clear and present danger request.
Other recipients of the grants include: the Cook County sheriff’s office, $333,293; Naperville Police Department, $27,895; Park Ridge Police Department, $14,459; Rolling Meadows Police Department, $12,792; Schaumburg Police Department, $19,588; and the West Chicago Police Department, $14,120.
Preventing gun violence
Lake County’s new campaign to reduce gun violence now has its leader.
Tierra Lemon was introduced to the Lake County Board on Tuesday as director of the county’s new Gun Violence Prevention Initiative. Behind her is State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.
– Courtesy of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office
Tierra Lemon, a licensed master level social worker who was most recently part of the University of Chicago’s Violence Recovery Program, on Tuesday was named director of the county’s Gun Violence Prevention Initiative.
The initiative, which we wrote about back in June 2022, aims to reduce shootings by linking those at risk of committing violence with services such as career counseling, mental health treatment and GED classes. A key element is the introduction of “violence interrupters,” who will serve as mentors and help steer those at risk down another path.
The program will be operated by the Lake County state’s attorney’s office and has been funded by a $1.5 million federal grant.
Lemon will lead day-to-day prevention efforts and develop long-term safety strategies.
“By working together, we can reduce gun violence and make Lake County a safer place for all community members,” Lemon said in an announcement of her appointment.
The Kane County state’s attorney’s office’s first collaborative diversion coordinator has moved on.
Martha Paschke was hired Tuesday by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin to be director of innovation and strategy for the city.
Paschke had worked for State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser since March 2021.
She is also a Geneva alderman.
• Do you have a tip or a comment? Email us at [email protected].