At a loss to explain why so many of his officers die in the line of duty, San Diego Police Chief William B. Kolender has ordered a wide-ranging internal task force study into police safety.
Kolender decided to initiate the safety study after a shooting in Encanto last Sunday left Officer Thomas E. Riggs, 27, dead and Officer Donovan Jacobs, 28, seriously wounded. Sara Pena-Ruiz, 32, who was in Riggs' car as a participant in the department's ride-along program, was also wounded but has since been discharged from the hospital.
The shooting brought to 10 the number of San Diego police officers killed in the line of duty since 1977. Since September, two separate shooting incidents have claimed the lives of three officers, giving San Diego the highest mortality rate among departments in 51 large U.S. cities, according to a study commissioned by the San Diego Police Officers Assn.
Concern over those statistics prompted Kolender to hold a series of "brain storming" sessions with his top administrators during the week. When they could not find an easy answer to the high death rate, Kolender decided Friday to form a task force to study the problem, said Asst. Police Chief Bob Burgreen.