The Thanksgiving holiday weekend ended tragically for the nation and the law enforcement community when four officers from the Lakewood (Wash.) Police Department were executed by a lone gunman as they worked on their laptops in a coffee shop prior to reporting for duty Sunday morning.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and colleagues of the slain Lakewood officers and the Washington law enforcement community.

This horrific and targeted ambush comes less than a month after Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton was shot to death and another officer wounded as they sat in a parked patrol car. The suspect in that case also allegedly firebombed four police vehicles in a maintenance yard nine days earlier.

Everyone, law enforcement and community members alike, should be alarmed when those whose job it is to fight crime on a daily basis are being targeted and slain. After falling to their lowest level in nearly five decades in 2008, line-of-duty deaths among U.S.  law enforcement officers are suddenly on the rise. The latest data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund shows 66 officers died in the line of duty between January 1 and June 30, 2009, compared with 55 deaths during the first six months of 2008.

We are outraged that the suspect in these killings is a parolee who nine years ago had a 95-year sentence commuted by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and was subsequently released by the Arkansas Parole Board.  This is the second time in less than a year that four police officers have been murdered by a convicted felon freed on parole.

With California poised to embark on a mass release of convicted felons from state prison, we implore our state political leaders to seek alternative ways of cutting the state budget.

Surely, the murders of four Lakewood police officers, four Oakland police officers and other murders by parolees – such as the recent tragedy of Lily Burk – should cause the idea of a mass release of parolees in California to be abandoned.

On behalf of the more than 9,900 officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Protective League extends its deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the Lakewood Police Department officers killed Sunday.  For information on making donations to assist the officers’ families, visit the Lakewood Police Independent Guild’s website at www.lpig.us.  To our officers in the field, there has never been a more urgent time for police officers everywhere to remain vigilant – please be careful, even while performing the most routine duties.

Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,900 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at www.LAPD.com