Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar attended last week’s meeting in Washington, D.C., as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced an initiative to improve the safety of law enforcement officers.
The Law Enforcement Officer Safety Initiative comes on the heels of what Holder called a “simply unacceptable” increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the U.S.
Farrar joined other police chiefs from major cities, including New York City and Washington, D.C., and the heads of numerous federal law enforcement agencies for the March 22 meeting.
Farrar led the department when four Lakewood police officers were killed at a Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, believed to be the deadliest attack on law enforcement in state history.
Farrar said the meeting was “very beneficial” and he was pleased to see a Cabinet-level official discussing the issue with local law enforcement officers instead of “making decisions in a vacuum and making us live within the boundaries of what they decide.”
The police chief said he raised concerns about budget cuts to state institutions causing the release of mentally ill offenders, which can present a potential danger to law enforcement.
Holder directed U.S. attorneys within three months to meet with law enforcement officials and prosecutors in their districts. One task during those meetings will be identifying the “worst of the worst” offenders and discuss whether any of them may be prosecuted under federal law, which can carry stiffer sentences.
Another purpose of the meeting is to allow the Department of Justice to make officials aware of various resources available to help better protect officers, including a program that provides funding to help purchase new bulletproof vests.
Last year was one of the deadliest years on record for law enforcement deaths, following a two-year decline, according to Holder’s memo sent to the heads of several federal law enforcement agencies announcing the initiative. He wrote that the nation is on track to exceed last year’s number, with 27 law enforcement officials killed in shootings or assaults since the beginning of the year.
The memo notes the statistics don’t reflect the number of federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officers who survived an attack.