I am re-listening to the radio version of Dragnet which ran from 1949-1957. Along with Gunsmoke and Tales of the Texas Rangers, it is my favorite OTR program. I picked up something with this listen that I actually missed the first time I listened to it. In the first season, each episode was dedicated to the memory of a fallen officer. Most of them were killed in 40s with a few from the late 30s. I made a point to look up the names on the Officer Down Memorial Page and found out the circumstances. The dedications were to officers who were feloniously killed in the line of duty (as opposed to accidental deaths) for the most part.
If you look at every decade from the 1920s through the 2010s, the 40s were the second safest (with only the 50s being safer) while the 20s followed by the 30s were the deadliest. This makes sense, if you know your history. With Prohibition and then the Depression, it was open season for organized crime and consequently open season on law enforcement. During World War Two, with so many people away in the military, law enforcement deaths declined, however, they did tick upwards slightly in 1946 and 1947.
In my own career, I personally knew two officers who were shot and killed in the line of duty, but we tend to think of crime as a recent thing, it seems. The idea that law enforcement deaths were double in the 1920s what they are today is shocking to most people. But crime never takes a holiday, nor did it suddenly emerge in the 1970s. (The third deadliest decade, by the way.) As time permits, I plan on sharing some of the stories of officers who were killed during the 40s, particularly those who were murdered during the War years. So stay tuned for further information.
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