Mississippi honors fallen officers at events

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Last year, seven Mississippi officers were killed in the line of duty, making the Magnolia State one of the five deadliest states in the nation for law enforcement officers.

“I am saddened to see Mississippi in the top five nationally because I know locally each of these officers made Mississippi a safer place and I know the pain of loss every day,” said Judge Bill Skinner, a former Jackson Police Department narcotics officer whose father, Lt. William L. Skinner, was killed in the line of duty in 1971.

Texas led the nation as the deadliest with 13 officers killed in the line of duty, followed by California with 10. Mississippi and New York each lost seven officers, and Arkansas followed with six.

“We owe a debt of honor and remembrance to these seven officers,” said Shannon Fuller with the Mississippi Center for Police & Sheriffs.

Nationally, law enforcement fatalities dropped for the second year in a row, as 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty in 2013. This was the fewest number of officer fatalities since 1959, when 110 officers died. In 2012, there were 121 officers killed.

Traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer fatalities in 2013, killing 46 officers. Firearms-related deaths were No. 2, with 33 deaths.

Of the 33 firearms-related fatalities, seven officers were killed in ambush attacks. Fourteen officers died of job-related heart attacks.

“Mississippi stats are a lot like the national stats, with the number one cause of fatalities being traffic-related incidents,” Fuller said.

“On average, every 57 hours another officer dies in the line of duty in America. We have a debt to remember these seven officers from Mississippi who died in the line of duty in 2013,” said Michael Guest, the district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties.

For eight years, the nonprofit center has organized the state’s Police Memorial and TOP COP luncheon each May 15 at the Mississippi Trade Mart. The center also provides professional development training to law enforcement officers and operates Joyce’s Hope Home, which serves abused, runaway, neglected and at-risk girls.

During National Police Week, May 12-16, local services are held by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Veteran’s Administration Medical Center police, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Jackson Police Department, the Mississippi attorney general’s office and the Mississippi Police Chiefs Association.

Several other agencies also host police memorial events around the state. Two were held Tuesday. The Department of Public Safety honored 32 troopers who died in the line of duty during the 76-year history of the agency. The Fourth Annual Mississippi Law Enforcement Memorial Candlelight Vigil was held on the State Capitol mall.

Mississippi law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2013 include:

- Enterprise Police Chief Randy J. Boykin, who was struck and killed March 19, 2013, while directing school traffic at an intersection. The driver of the vehicle stopped to render aid to Boykin, who died while being airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Boykin, 51, had served as chief for 12 years and had also been a part-time deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department.

- Jackson Detective Eric Smith Sr., who was shot and killed April 4, 2013, in police department headquarters while interviewing a murder suspect. The suspect disarmed Smith and fatally shot him before turning the gun on himself. Smith, 40, was a Marine Corps veteran and served 18 years with JPD.

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