JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - MSGT John Collum of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. Sgt. Iris Smith of Mississippi Department of Corrections. Officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen of Hattiesburg Police Department.
All of these are officers who have died on the ninth day of what appears to be the worst month to be a Mississippi officer.
The first Mississippi police officer claimed by the month of May was shot walking a beat in 1908. Since that time, May – which is also the month of National Police Week – has been the deadliest month on the history books for Mississippi law enforcement officers.
“That’s that dreaded call and in my tenure I have received them and it’s the worst experience of your life," said Col. Steve Adcock of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. "These officers are heroes, they’re out there doing what most people won’t do and what most people don’t have it in their hearts to do.”
Adcock’s dear friend, MSGT John Collum, was fatally hit by a vehicle as he was investigating a prowler. It was May 9, 2014.
“John was a top notch officer, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone, he was a very hard worker, he was just one of those officers that stood out,” said Adcock. “One of the reasons he was chosen for Officer of the Year was that he had been involved with some life saving events. He actually saved lives and he always put for the extra effort and and went the extra mile and he paid the ultimate price.”
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, since 1908, 34 of the roughly 280 fallen officers in Mississippi were killed in May.
Eleven Mississippi officers were killed in the line of duty in May over the last 10 years, four of them on May 9.
But why is May so dangerous? Hotter temperatures can cause a rise in crime, some officials say.
“When the temperature rises the temper rises also, it runs hot in the blood, they quickly get out of control,” Sheriff Jacob Sheriff said. “People are now doing things without a conscience that they wouldn’t have done 20 years ago.”
But others say there is probably no answer to why May has been more deadly than the others.
“I think that one of the things people try to do is that they try to get closure, they try to figure out why things happen, but anyone who’s ever been involved in a tragedy and gotten through it has learned that you basically learn to live with it. There’s no closure, there’s no such thing as closure, and there are no answers,” said Adcock.
Line of duty deaths in Mississippi by month:
- January - 26
- February - 17
- March - 23
- April - 21
- May - 34
- June -18
- July - 19
- August - 16
- September - 26
- October - 26
- November - 21
- December - 29