Letter to the editor: Remember and honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty


As we begin a new year and reflect on 2021, it is hard to fathom that 73 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed last year. Sadly, four of those deaths came in the final weeks of December. That's the equivalent of one officer murdered every five days. Unfortunately, this 20-year high hasn't received the attention it deserves.

Baltimore Police Officer Keona Holley was ambushed while alone in her car and died on Christmas Eve. Five days later in Illinois, Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy Sean Riley was killed on a call for service. On Dec. 30, also in Illinois, Bradley Police Department Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic was shot while attempting to locate the owner of dogs left in a car. And on New Year's Eve, Cleveland Police Officer Shane Bartek was killed in an attempted carjacking.

In South Carolina, Lt. John Stewart of the Lake City Police Department was killed in September when a fleeing suspect struck Lt. Stewart during a vehicle pursuit. Although the number of officers feloniously killed dropped in the state in 2021 from 2020, one is still too many.

We at the Federal Bureau of Investigation dealt with our own losses in 2021. Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin were killed while serving an arrest warrant in a crimes against children case. Also, FBI Task Force Officer Greg Ferency of the Terre Haute, Indiana, Police Department was ambushed and killed outside an FBI office.

I often stress the importance of remaining vigilant and safe to our personnel, as well as looking out for one another. It impacts us all when a member of the law enforcement community is killed, as it could be any one of us at any time.

It's our duty to continue to work with our local, state and federal partners to take violent offenders off the streets and hold them accountable. We cannot do this task alone. Our brave men and women must know that the communities they serve support the work they do.

As we press on through this year, we will meet our challenges head on. We will continue to train, address potential threats and support and work with our law enforcement partners to make our communities safer.

Please remember and honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty. Let their memories guide us all to better serve the people of our communities.


Special agent in charge

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Columbia Division