Study: Nearly 1/4 line-of-duty deaths occur while officers responding to domestic calls

STARK COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - A Stark County police officer was shot four times Sunday night while responding to a domestic violence call. The officer survived, but unfortunately, that isn't the case for several others who answered similar calls.

Why are domestic calls so dangerous for police? It's a lesson most officers learn at the academy.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice-funded study, conducted by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, most line-of-duty deaths occur while officers respond to domestic disputes and domestic-related incidents.

Part of the study focused on the deaths of 91 officers over a five-year period -- all cases were the officers were killed while answering a dispatched call for service. Of those cases, 22 percent of officers died responding to domestic calls.

That includes officers like Trooper Joel Davis of the New York State Police. The father of three was gunned down Sunday night while responding to a call for shots fired during a domestic dispute. Investigators say the suspect, an active duty Army infantryman, also shot and killed his wife and wounded another woman.

The study of line-of-duty deaths has resulted in several key recommendations for law enforcement:

  • During domestic calls, officers should never be sent alone.
  • More than 1/3 of officers who died were dispatched alone, or did not wait for back up arrive.
  • Dispatchers should be frequently checking on the welfare of the officers on scene.

It's also important for dispatchers to relay all call information to responding officers, along with any history of prior calls, warrants and arrests at that home.

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