“I never saw it coming,” Fike said. “I should have been more prepared than what I was. I ended up dealing with an elderly man with dementia and you always expect the drug-runners from Detroit, or wherever, coming back and forth, but you never expect something like that taking place.”
Fike found himself staring down the barrel of a gun and being fired at before returning fire, striking the man.
“It’s very humbling,” Fike said. “It’s very surreal. It puts a whole different perspective on the human life and the value. Our pay is not much to begin with. And when you are putting the ultimate sacrifice, which is your life, on the line to protect others, it‘s very humbling.”
Fike was one of several law enforcement officers who gathered in the FOP lodge to talk about the dangers of staffing cuts dictated by the latest state budget cuts.
“Backups are a wonderful thing. You’re always happy when you see your backup. Typically on my shift we have two on the road and a township deputy,” Fike said. “Unfortunately, in the county it’s not an everyday thing that we have. At the county we do more with less. You ask any county deputy and he’ll explain to you in detail. You might leave the department and go out on patrol and never see another officer during the entire shift.”
Last year, 158 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty — four in Ohio. So far this year in Ohio, five officers have been killed in the line of duty, and 65 across the country. Officer deaths by gunfire are up 88 percent over the same period last year.
“A lot of what we do gets lost in all the politics and budget cuts,” Portsmouth Police officer and President of FOP Lodge 33 said. “Budget cuts have a great deal of effect on what we can do, how we can do it, and where our backup is.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.