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Career Survival
with Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith

About ten minutes before I was scheduled to start my officer and career survival class at the annual conference held by the National Center for Women in Policing, I checked my email and discovered that we had lost our 14th female police officer this year. Deputy Sarah Haylett-Jones succumbed to injuries she sustained two days earlier when she was struck by another vehicle while directing traffic at a motorist assist outside of Bloomington, Indiana.
Haylett-Jones was 27 years old.

More than 220 women are listed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, but only 9 women were killed prior to 1970. This year is shaping up to be one of our worst. From vehicular assaults to gunshots to traffic crashes to an edged weapon assault, the number of female law enforcement officers killed is on the rise. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, in 2001 eleven female officers were killed, twelve in 1998 and 1999, and a high of fifteen in 2002.

Of the 14 women killed this year, eight were killed in vehicle related incidents, three in gun battles, one agent was killed by exposure to toxins in a meth lab, one while aboard a commuter train that crashed, and a correctional officer was stabbed to death by an inmate with a shank after she was sexually assaulted. The average age of these women killed was 48 - the youngest was 24, the oldest was 59. Six were in their 50's.

These female crime fighters were as diverse in their duties as their male counterparts; they were patrol officers, probation officers, correctional officers, federal agents, state troopers, detectives, ordinance officers, sheriff's deputies and a state's attorney's investigator. They left at least 12 children and seven grandchildren without a mom or a grandmother, and one officer was 8 weeks pregnant at the time of her murder. They also left husbands, partners, fiancés, parents, grandparents, siblings, a K9 partner, and their brothers and sisters in blue to go on without them.

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