So far 32 officers have been killed in 2016 in the United States as the calendar moves toward the Wichita Falls Police Department’s annual memorial services in May honoring law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Wichita Falls officers who have fallen in the line of duty include Lieutenant Walter Tommy Collins, Officer Edwin Rappolee, Jr., Officer Robert Edward Fellows,, Officer Russell C. Scott, Special Officer Robert Franklin “Bob” Fennell, Officer Charles Sleigh Carlisle and Officer Hugh Sevier Fuller.
The most recently fallen officers nationwide include Border Patrol Agent Jose Barraza, April 18, 2016: Officer Steven Smith of the Columbus, Ohio, Division of Police on April 12, 2016 and Trooper Chad Dermyer of the Virginia State Police on March 31, 2016. The most recently fallen K9s include Nicky of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; Reefer of the Chelan County, Washington Police Department on March 9, 2016; Vigor of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee; Aren of the Port Authority of Allegheny, Pennsylvania; and Betcha of Rutland County Sheriff’s Office, Vermont on January 29, 2016.
Of the 32 officers killed nationally in 2016, gunfire caused 16 of the deaths while 13 were automobile-related. Three fell under the category of Other. The most alarming of these numbers is the 167% increase in deaths resulting from firearms.
The most recent Wichita Falls lawman killed was Collins who was shot while assisting officers responding to a call involving a man firing a .30-.30 rifle at construction workers on the eastern side of Wichita Falls in 1989. Collins bravely charged a sniper who had two of his men pinned down at the time of the tragic event. He was transported to a Wichita Falls hospital where he later died. The sniper was arrested and sentenced to three 99 year prison sentences. While he has come up for parole, his efforts at release have been denied on each occasion. Collins served the citizens of Wichita Falls for 31 years and is survived by his wife and three children.
The mission statement of the ODMP reads in pertinent part as follows; ….ODMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America’s fallen law enforcement heroes. More than 20,000 officers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the United States and it is with great honor that the ODMP pays a lasting tribute to each of these officers by preserving their memories within its pages. All who visit the ODMP will be deeply moved by the countless stories of selfless courage and heroism exhibited by officers who lost their lives while serving and protecting the citizens of this great nation.”
The Wichita Falls Police Department was established in 1890 with a chief and four officers. Chief Manuel Borrego is the current chief and presides over a department which is authorized to have 202 sworn officers and 103 civilian officers. This past year the department celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2015.
Each day many officers look in the mirror, kiss their husbands/ wives good-bye and head to work not knowing if that day will be their last. Citizens should be grateful for the sacrifices our men in blue perform.