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January 29, 2011

Gearing up to battle 'war on cops'

Some are calling it a "war on cops."

During a 24-hour span Sunday and Monday, 11 police officers around the country were shot, with three dying. Three days earlier, two officers were killed while serving a warrant in Florida.

"It's got everybody concerned," Oneonta Police Chief Joseph Redmond said Wednesday.

In 2010, 162 police officers died in the line of duty, with traffic accidents the leading cause of death.

But 61 were shot and killed that year.

The 14 deaths from all causes so far this month have matched the 14 deaths recorded last year.

However, this January has seen a 40 percent increase in slayings over January 2010, Redmond said Wednesday.

Richard Roberts, spokesman for the International Union of Police Associations, told recently there is a perception among law enforcement in the field that there was a "war on cops."

On Tuesday, Redmond sent an e-mail drawing attention to the shootings and the need for vigilance.

One of those who received the chief's e-mail is officer Jeff Gallusser. In March, Gallusser will have spent five years patrolling the streets of Oneonta. Gallusser said every time he hears of an officer dying in the line of duty, it hits home.

"This profession is a family," Gallusser, 28, said Wednesday.

No such thing as 'routine'

Although law enforcement officers often say there is no such thing as "routine" in their profession, some of the most recent shootings seem to develop from nothing out of the ordinary. A report of a suspicious person at a Walmart in Port Orchard, Wash., suddenly turned into a shootout in the parking lot. A man connected to a kidnapping investigation walked into a Detroit police station without warning and opened fire, wounding four officers.

"It's disturbing," Gallusser said. "You never know what you are going to be dealing with."

That was the case on April 2, when 16-year-old Anthony Pacherille allegedly chased classmate Wesley Lippitt to the Cooperstown Police Station and shot and wounded him with a .22-caliber rifle. Officer James Cox was sitting at a computer to check e-mail in the Cooperstown Police Station when he heard shots. He ordered the alleged shooter to drop his rifle. During the incident, the shooter aimed the gun at himself, firing into his chin, according to police.

Pacherille is scheduled for trial later this year on attempted second-degree murder.

Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. was the first law enforcement officer to arrive at the scene to assist Cox and helped him make sure he hadn't been struck.

"Your adrenaline is going so much," Cox said. "At the time, I did not know that I really missed a round. It was after the fact."

A bullet hole was four or five inches from his head, he said Thursday, while sitting in front of the same computer. Cox said muscle-memory and training prompted him to bolt toward the alleged shooter.

"That's one of the big things they teach you _ you never let your guard down," Cox said.

Although there is no indication the Cooperstown shooter was targeting police or the police station, that is not always the case, according to Cox.

Officer: Sometimes police are target

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