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Years have passed, but not the collective chill that comes when our minds are drawn back to Sept. 11, 2001.
In the days leading up to this year’s 14th anniversary of the terrorists’ attacks, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle issued a press release, urging Georgians to stop to reflect on the critical role that law enforcement officers play in our communities.
"Eighty-three law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year," Cagle said in the statement issued Sept. 8, "Twenty-four of them were shot and killed in cold blood."
Those are sobering national statistics, the sort that have been replayed more lately -- the result of angry displays and discourse that have escalated since the August 2014 killing of a black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
But are the stats accurate? PolitiFact decided to check.
We contacted Ben Fry, Cagle’s chief of staff, who said the numbers came from the Officer Down Memorial Page, a resource that he said was recommended by the Georgia Sheriffs Association.
The privately run website is dedicated to memorializing police officers who die in the line of duty and is constantly updated. It showed a 2015 death count of 92 by Sunday, Sept. 20, that included seven Georgia law enforcement officers.
The causes of death varied. Twenty-eight died from gunfire, two accidentally. Auto and motorcycle accidents claimed 24 lives. Vehicle pursuits killed four, and vehicle assaults three. Heart attacks accounted for 15 deaths, and a fall caused one death.
Five law enforcement officers died in 2015 of illnesses related to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to the website.
Texas and Louisiana have had the most officers die this year, 10 and 9, respectively.
The website numbers track those in Cagle’s statement; they’re more current and so higher.
We decided to spot check the website’s data against information gathered for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, as well media reports.
The names of officers who die in the line of duty are etched in marble each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week, at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. That group keeps up-to-date data on law enforcement deaths and reported 92 on Sunday (identical to what the Officer Down Memorial Page was reporting that day.)
We also used Google to verify all seven of the officer deaths in Georgia noted on the Officer Down Memorial Page. This included DeKalb County Police Officer Kevin Toatley, who was killed Saturday night when his patrol car was struck head on by a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on South Fulton Parkway.
The Officer Down Memorial Page, which has data that appears spot on, says that with the count of 92 deaths as of Sept. 20, all law enforcement deaths for 2015 are down 1 percent this year, compared to 2014. Gunfire deaths are down 26 percent; and auto-related deaths, at 36, are up 13 percent.
(In May of this year. the FBI released its preliminary stats for 2014 law enforcement deaths in the line of duty. It showed 51 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed, meaning they were killed with "criminal intent, as opposed to by accident), an increase of almost 89 percent from 2013 when the death count was 27. Between 1980 and 2014, an average of 64 law enforcement officers died this way each year. The 2013 death count was the lowest in this 35-year period.)
With all the conversation about relations between the police and the communities they serve, that’s valuable information to know, especially when a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports.com suggests that all those discussions may be influencing public thinking.
The telephone survey showed that 58 percent of likely U.S. voters believe there’s a war on police in America today.
Our conclusion: In the days leading up to the 9/11 anniversary, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle issued a press release, urging Georgians to stop to reflect on the critical role that law enforcement officers play in our communities.
"Eighty-three law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year. Twenty-four of them were shot and killed in cold blood," he said.
His numbers come from a group that works to diligently track data and pay tribute to law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty.
We rate Cagle’s statement True.
"Law Enforcement Officers Have Earned Our Respect," press release from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sept. 8, 2015
Email with Ben Fry, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on Sept. 8, 2015
"Once again: There is no ‘war on cops.’ And those who claim otherwise are playing a dangerous game." By Radley Balko, The Washington Post, Sept. 10, 2015
"Fulton officer ‘died doing what he loved: protect and serve,’" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wednesday, March 4, 2015
"Chatham County deputy sheriff killed in wreck was 14-year veteran of the force," The Savannah Morning News, Sept. 17, 2015
"Hays State Prison officer killed in accident on prison grounds" By Joy Lukachick Smith, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, July9th, 2015
"Southeast Georgia sheriff killed during chase; suspects held," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 16, 2015
"East Point police detective dies in surgery," WSB-TV, Thursday, May 28, 2015
"Clayton County police officer laid to rest following deadly crash," WSB-TV Friday, March 20, 2015
"58% Think There's A War on Police in America Today," Rasmussen Reports, Sept. 2, 2015
"Proclamation-- Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week, 2014," White House press release, May 9, 2014
"FBI Releases 2014 Preliminary Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty," FBI press release, May 11, 2015
"Remembering the man she loved: Widow of fallen DeKalb officer speaks --Charkeshia Toatley tells the world about the husband who brightened her life " WXIA-TV, Sept. 20, 2015
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