By The Lima News
Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the dangers and fears police officers face every day. Wednesday night we were reminded of that when a deranged man surprised and attacked two officers outside the Lima Police Department. The scuffle only lasted a matter of seconds, but resulted in one of the officers being stabbed and the assailant being shot.
The fortunate part is that officer David Gillispie, an 18-year police veteran, was not seriously injured physically, being treated and released that night. The assailant remained hospitalized Friday afternoon with two gunshot wounds.
The incident highlights the increased amounts of attacks on police officers across the nation as well as the growing phenomena of “suicide by cop,” an inexplicable behavior associated with people attempting to get themselves shot at the hands of a law enforcement officer.
The most recent FBI statistics show that in 2011, there were 54,774 law enforcement officers assaulted while performing their duties. Of the officers assaulted, 27 percent suffered injuries. The largest percentage of victim officers (33) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 80 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 2 percent of the incidents. All were increased from the previous year.
One of the standard questions asked by a law enforcement agency of potential officers is “could you shoot somebody if you had to?” It’s an absurd question because there are few police officers who can really answer that question until it happens.
Then, all the training police officers receive cannot prepare them for what may occur after such a shooting. It can have a numbing effect even for the most veteran of officers. They can struggle with “doing what they had to do … what they were trained to do” while at the same time wrestling with the reality that they were under a life-threatening attack and/or were put in a position to defend themselves by taking someone else’s life.
That is why professional counseling is so important after such a case.
At any given moment being a police officer can be a rewarding or thankless job. Most men and women who aspire to serve in law enforcement don’t truly understand that until they’ve served a few years. With regards to what happened Wednesday, it is only fitting that we and the community thank those who attempt to ensure our safety each day.