After a motorist shot and killed a St. Croix sheriff’s deputy Saturday night, law enforcement leaders reflected on her death.
“It’s just a feeling of despair, sadness, and disappointment that again we're seeing this happen in such a short amount of time,” George Papachristou said.
A former Milwaukee Police officer, he is a chaplain with the Wisconsin State Patrol, providing moral support to officers across the state.
The shooting of deputy Katie Lessing, 29, makes 2023 the deadliest year for law enforcement in Wisconsin since 2000. She is the fourth law enforcement officer to be killed this year.
Her death comes exactly one month after the fatal shooting of two officers in Barron County. On April 8, Officer Emily Breidenbach, 32, of the Chetek Police Department, and Officer Hunter Scheel, 23, of the Cameron Police Department, were killed in a traffic stop.
In February, a man shot and killed Milwaukee police Officer Peter Jerving after a robbery.
Jim Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, was saddened to hear of another officer shooting.
“The fact that we're just barely five months into the year is alarming and troubling not just for officers, but for loved ones,” Palmer said.
He said that mental health and access to guns may be part of the problem.
In 2016, according to data from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, 50% of officer-involved shootings involved subjects armed with guns.
In 2021, officers were confronted with firearms nearly seventy percent of the time.
“It’s a really stressful time for all people in law enforcement right now because there's so many dangers,” Papachristou said.
“They're just trying to do their job, get through their shift, do the best possible job, and go home to their families.”
He said officers across the state are feeling the pain of another life lost. To help, he said to support local officers.
“When you see an officer, thank them.”