Search for solace in officer-shooting aftermath

After a tragedy such as the shooting death of a Reno police officer on Wednesday, the struggle is to find some solace with which to temper the sorrow, anger and frustration.

Perhaps it lies in the fact that more than 200 schoolchildren escaped safely from Wednesday's shootout in a Reno neighborhood.

Perhaps it lies in the fact that many neighbors also were evacuated unharmed despite a volley of bullets from the gunman's high-powered rifle.

Perhaps it lies in the 13-year career of Officer John C. Bohach, praised by fellow law-enforcement officials for putting a number of sex offenders behind bars and being a sensitive investigator of crimes against children.

Bohach, 35, died Wednesday from a bullet that pierced the hood of his patrol car before striking him in the chest.

Larry James Peck, who has a long criminal history but little that would indicate he would erupt in a shootout with police, was arrested after surrendering - uninjured - following a five-hour standoff.

We often take for granted the peace and safety we feel from day to day, because we are secure in the knowledge the nation's police officers stand between us and the criminal element of society. But we should never forget how perilous that job can be.

In the United States, seldom do three days go by that a police officer isn't killed in the line of duty.

On Wednesday, Bohach became the 93rd officer to die this year. The day before, Fresno County (Calif.) Deputy Erik Telen, 26, had become the 92nd.

Statistics show more frequent use of body armor, better training for police officers and improved equipment have contributed to a decline in the number of police deaths over the past two decades.

From the worst year ever - 1974, when 268 officers died - the number has generally fallen. Last year, 151 officers made the ultimate sacrifice. During that time, the number of working officers has more than doubled nationwide. They take the risk for us.

Perhaps some of those facts and figures will someday help ease the pain for the family, friends and co-workers of Officer Bohach. For now, though, we can simply offer our deepest condolences and our prayers.


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