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State second in U.S. in law enforcement deaths in 2012

Gainesville, Hall officers report injuries, but no fatalities

POSTED: January 2, 2013 11:26 p.m.

Georgia was No. 2 in the country in law enforcement deaths in 2012, according to a nonprofit group that tallies officer deaths, but none of those deaths were in Northeast Georgia.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that nationwide the number of law enforcement officers who died while performing their duties has declined overall last year.

The group said 127 federal, state and local officers died on the job last year. There were 165 deaths in 2011 and 154 in 2010.

Gainesville and Hall County did report some injuries, however.

The Gainesville Police Department was not able to provide exact figures on injuries, but spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said the only major injury that came to mind happened just two days into 2012.

Officer Justin Martin was hospitalized after he was struck by a car while responding to a wreck at McEver Road at Spring Road.

“As far as serious injuries go, that was the only one I believe,” Holbrook said.

Martin suffered broken bones when an SUV heading north on McEver swerved to the left as the driver tried to avoid hitting a police car in front of her as it moved into a right turn lane, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Instead the vehicle driven by Jennifer Elizabeth Garner hit Martin.

Garner was charged about a month later with following too closely, driving too fast for conditions and violation of the Move Over law.

The memorial fund organization noted that the majority of officers who died were either shot or were victims of traffic accidents.

In Hall County, Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks reported that 17 line-of-duty injuries were from tussles with arrestees or inmates inside the jail.

Among those injuries, Wilbanks said, were a broken finger, a bruised head, a broken blood vessel in an arm and a bite.

Eight line-of-duty injuries were the result of auto accidents, Wilbanks said.

He also said slips, falls, sprains, strains or other injuries during searches for offenders are fairly common.

Wilbanks did note that Georgia Emergency Management Agency grant money funding much-needed equipment upgrades for the SWAT team could be life-saving for deputies on searches.

Georgia’s fallen in the line of duty included five police officers, one correctional officer, one sergeant and one police dog.

The memorial fund tallies deaths of officers and maintains a memorial wall in Washington honoring the fallen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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