Oneida County law enforcement agencies know all too well the pain of losing one of their own, but 2012 has, so far, brought good news for officers. Nationwide, fatalities are down from this same time last year. Sarah Blazonis reports.
ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Utica Police Officer Thomas Lindsey's life ended on April 12th five years ago, but his memory still greets his fellow officers every day before they enter the building, as they walk its halls and even in the police station's locker room there are memorials to the fallen officer.
The co-workers who mourn Officer Lindsey are not alone.
"In this line of work, it is so unpredictable what type of call you're going to get, what type of call you're going to get sent out on," said Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol.
Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol's department lost one of its own just last year: Deputy Kurt Wyman.
Lindsey and Wyman are among the more than 1,300 officers killed in the line of duty in New York according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The state ranks third nationwide behind Texas and California for the highest number of officer fatalities.
2012 does seem to have brought some good news. Nationwide, officer deaths are down 47 percent from this same time last year.
"There has been a full court press within the law enforcement community to improve officer safety, and therefore decrease the number of officers who are losing their lives in the line of duty," said Steve Groeninger, senior director of communications for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Memorial Fund officials say that can include anything from increased training to tougher penalties for offenders.
Sheriff Maciol says whatever the reason for the decline, a strong training foundation is critical.
An independent review is also underway of the standoff that resulted in Wyman's death to determine whether the sheriff's office can make any safety improvements.
"It is our obligation to do as much as we can, whether it's training, equipment, constant reviews of things, we want to make their job as safe as we can," said Sheriff Maciol.
To prevent more from being lost while protecting the safety of the community.