Rough time for area’s law enforcement |

Rough time for area’s law enforcement

When Reno police officer John Bohach was gunned down Wednesday, he became the fifth officer killed in the region in the last month.

The violence has made an impact on South Lake Tahoe police Officer Chuck Owens, a member of the department’s honor guard.

“I’m kind of in a daze to be honest,” said Owens. “What is going on in our state where we have had five officers killed within a four-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe?”

Two deputies died in Chico July 26, a police officer from Bishop died Aug. 15 and a deputy from Fresno County died Aug. 21. Two of the deputies killed were 26 years old.

Owens has attended funerals for four of the men and expects to attend Bohach’s. He said the recent flood of tragedy is a reminder of the dangers inherent to law enforcement.

“We’re just as vulnerable as they are,” he said. “You know we’re no different than any other community. Just because we’re living in beautiful area designed for tourism doesn’t mean we’re exempt.”

The funerals can also be emotionally draining. They usually last several hours and include a bagpipe performance, a rendition of Taps and a recording of dispatch putting the dead officer’s patrol unit out of service.

“Officer involved funerals are very difficult,” Owens said. “These officers are not a part of our agency but we understand how the Reno officers feel right now. And how the spouses of the families feel right now.”

Thus far in 2001, 93 officers have been killed on duty. Last year, 150 officers died which is a decrease from 177 killed in 1995, according to the Officers Down Memorial Page.

Owens is an 18-year-veteran of South Lake’s department. He hopes the death of five officers will make other officers even more conscious of the possible dangers of the job.

“It is tragic, we do feel pain,” he said. “One positive thing is that maybe it will be a wake up call for officers to use a little bit more caution. It can happen to us.”

South Lake hasn’t lost an officer in the line of duty in the 34 years its been in operation, but there have been numerous injuries, some which required surgery, Owens said.

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