Officer McDonald on Action News

September 25, 2008 5:55:32 AM PDT
Action News worked with slain Philadelphia highway patrol officer Patrick McDonald last year. The crew was in the back seat of his patrol car, working on a story about the threats that Highway Patrol officers face.

What some people may not realize is that Highway Patrol no longer patrols highways. That job has gone to the state police. Now, it's the job of the highway patrol to police the toughest neighborhoods in the city.

McDonald was at the wheel of a patrol car when he talked about one threat that seemed to foreshadow the violent confrontation that took his life.

"We'll stop cars for regular violations, and guys carry a gun on them," McDonald said.

It was a traffic stop on Tuesday that lead to his death. McDonald had pulled over a car with Daniel Giddings inside. Giddings fled on foot, and McDonald gave chase. Soon after, Giddings shot McDonald repeatedly, killing him. Giddings later shot another officer, who returned fire leaving Giddings dead.

Constantly facing danger is the job of the Highway Patrol.

"Officers go out to neighborhoods like Pat was in yesterday, stopping a car in a tough area of the city, and hoping he would come up with narcotics or a gun or whatever... Checking the vehicle out. That's what highway patrol does," said unit Captain Michael Cochrane.

Highway's job in the coming days will be to prepare for a funeral, the fourth for a Philadelphia police officer in less than a year.

"We know its going to happen,and it could happen again," said Capt. Cochrane. "I hope it doesn't. We're ready and we'll deal with it as it comes."

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