The Thin Blue Line

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Police officers: Sworn to protect others while putting their safety on the line. But is the job getting more dangerous? Are more officers being shot at?

After one Toledo Police Officer was shot while on duty last year and two others were then shot at just weeks later, it is a question that many have hoped to have an answer for.

"I have worked in the private sector and I never got a gun and I never got a bullet proof vest so, yeah, you know, it's a dangerous job," Sylvania Township Deputy Chief and former TPD Captain Ray Carroll said.

"It's a very dangerous job," Chief Mike Navarre said. "They come to work not knowing what they will face."

Similar scenes through the years, one phrase to sum up these near tragedies, lucky to be alive.

"Thank goodness the doors stopped the pellets or we wouldn't be having this interview today," former Toledo Police Lieutenant Brad Weis said.

"Had it not been for the skills, training discipline and heroism of these officers this incident could have been handled very differently," TPD Chief George Kral said.

Lieutenant Wise's story is one of many dozens of Toledo police officers who were shot while on duty. But that exact number of officers narrowly skirting death is one we may never know.

"It's part of your routine that you possibly could get shot at. Even though it is, we don't think about it. When you really sit back look at it, we didn't document this" TPD Officer Beth Thieman questioned.

TPD along with so many across the nation have not kept any logs or records of names, stories or simply how many officers were shot and injured on the job. many saying it is just what comes with the territory.

So we are still left to answer the question, are more officers being shot and injured on the job now?

Through Officer Thieman's research the answer is no for TPD. There was a slight spike in officers shot in the 70's and 80's but has since leveled off.

"Crack cocaine really had an influence of gangs coming from California and bringing the drug with them," Officer Thieman explained. "There was an uptick across the country and we were no different here but out shootings, out violent crime all went up. They work hand in hand."

According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, the number of officers shot and injured has remained pretty consistent through the years.

"It's always been a dangerous job and our goal is to get home at the end," Captain Carroll said.

Long time member of the department, former Toledo Police Captain Ray Carroll says the the age of cell phones and social media may lead us to believe more officers are being injured and killed because we learn their story.

"The officers take on more of a human characteristic," Captain Carroll explained. "Before they were a number or a name in the paper. It's just something you read in the paper over breakfast but I think because of social media you see these faces and pictures of these officers and their families," 

That is what Officer Thieman hopes to continue to do, not only document the number of officers injured and killed but to also capture their stories so the next generation never forgets.

"My dream is by the time I leave here, the next person can say 'oh wow, we did a great job of documenting when we were in shootings,'" Officer Thieman said.

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