May is already upon us - where has the time gone?? Sadly, once again, officers killed in the line of duty are up by an astonishing 7%, as of April 1st, as reported by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial.
All deaths of police officers are heart wrenching, and difficult to deal with, but the murder of Officer Ashley Guindon of the Prince William County (VA) Police Department was an especially hard pill to swallow. Her end of watch was on February 27th. Officer Guindon was shot and killed, while responding to a domestic dispute call. Two other responding officers were also shot and wounded. The suspect was arrested at the scene. Officer Guindon had just been sworn in the previous day, and was working her first shift as a Prince William County Police Officer. Officer Guindon was the eleventh officer to have been shot and killed in 2016, and the first officer fatality from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sadly she was an officer for just one day. Yes, you read that right, one day.
In 2015 we had 124 officers killed in the line of duty, and the leading cause of these murders was by ambush. God bless these officers and their families, your sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
Then right here in Tampa, we lost another officer. Deputy John R. Kotfilaja Jr., was killed in a fatal traffic accident. He was only 30 years old at his end of watch. His father is a Sergeant for the Massachusetts police, and his uncle is a deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriffs Department. The service for Deputy Kotfilaja took place in Tampa, and he was layed to rest in his hometown in Falmouth, MA. The turnout in Tampa was incredible. We would like to thank our County officers and the El Portel officer, who took their time to make the trip to Tampa to show their support for Deputy Kotfilaja and his family. And thanks to PBA Board Members Officer Mary Ann Stahl and Debbie Fleites who not only represented MDPD, but also the PBA.
On May 5th, I encourage everyone to try to attend the Tropical Park Police Memorial ceremony. I promise, you will not be sorry. It’s a humbling experience, and it puts life in perspective. “It was their duty to serve, its our duty to remember.”
KEY WEST POLICE
Congratulations to Key West Police Lieutenant Areaka Jewell who received the State Attorney’s “Law Enforcement Officer of Quarter” award. She was commended for her performance and dedication to getting the job done, and we can’t agree more. Lt. Jewell has a can do attitude. She’s also a PBA Representative, and as such continues to fight for the Key West officers’ rights. Keep up the great work Lt. Jewell! We see you, and thank you for your unwavering commitment.
We lost another great man, retired MDPD Erik Schottenheimer, who passed away in March. He was much too young, as a training advisor he was a mentor to many of the new officers, and will be missed by so many. RIP my friend.
See you next month. Stay safe!