Police in Peril

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

They’re only two words, 11 letters in total, but yet when uttered sends shivers down the back of law enforcement personnel everywhere.

“Officer Down!”

Over the past several weeks, those two words have echoed along the streets of Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Unfortunately, a total of eight police officers in those two cities died while carrying out the four words they live by: To Protect and Serve.

Local law enforcement officials in the Roanoke-Chowan area expressed concern about the recent ambush shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, but are maintaining good relationships with the communities to reduce the threat of violence.

Hertford County Sherriff Juan Vaughan said of the recent shootings, “It’s sad, very sad.”

Northampton County Sheriff Jack Smith said, “It’s a tragedy for the officers and their families. It’s so sad that it has come to this.”

Windsor Police Chief Todd Lane added, “The recent killing of police officers is a great tragedy, these men began their work day with no idea it would be their last. They came to work that day like any other, to serve and protect their community.”

“These killings have society as a whole on edge.” Chief Lane added. “We cannot exist as a society without dedicated law enforcement officers who work every day to ensure the safety of all citizens.”

Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe concurred with all those sentiments, reminding citizens of how tough the job is on wives and children.

“Every day you go to work there’s a chance you won’t be coming home,” Rowe said somberly.

Both sheriffs and police chiefs said they try to prevent all violence by establishing good community relationships.

To protect officers, Sheriff Vaughan said, “We tell officers to be careful and be observant. And back each other up.”

Sheriff Smith said, “We need to get back to basics and remember our Christian values – treat all people as you wish to be treated.”

“In Windsor, as always, we continue to have an open line of communication with all our community leaders. Keeping an open line of communications is the key to understanding each other,” stressed Chief Lane.

Chief Rowe said, “Officers have to be hyper-vigilant. Some people say officers are standoffish or impersonal, but officers have only nanoseconds to make decisions. They must be cognizant of everything in their surroundings.”

All four local law enforcement leaders said they work very hard to maintain good community relations so officers are viewed as partners rather then antagonists.

“We try to get to know people,” said Sheriff Vaughan.

“We are community oriented.”

Sheriff Smith reiterated that officers need to keep in mind to treat all others as they would like to be treated. He said the sheriff’s department has public meetings at various places in the county to keep the safety of both officers and citizens in mind.

Chief Rowe said the job of law enforcement officer is tougher than it’s been during his 27 years on the job. He added that the Murfreesboro Police employ the use of in-car cameras and body cameras for the officers.

Rowe said his officers have two goals before starting a shift.

“The first goal is to enforce the law and protect people. The second goal is to return home to our families,” he noted.

Training and more training is emphasized by all four officers. How to work with citizens in the community and keep up a high level of professionalism calms situations and helps officers be more proficient and efficient at doing their jobs.

“We try to provide the best training and equipment,” Chief Rowe said

Sheriff Smith said, “We have a responsibility to be fair to everybody and to follow the law. We have a lot of meetings and trainings to stay on top of things.”

Referring back to the recent assaults on officers and the videos showing officer-involved shootings in the nation, Sheriff Vaughan said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“It’s tough times,” he said. “We’ll keep praying that things get better.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory spoke out against the brutal slayings of officers on Sunday in Baton Rouge.

“This tragic incident involving the killing of police officers in Baton Rouge is another example of the danger our law enforcement officers face every day in communities across our nation,” McCrory said. “Ann and I are praying for the families of these fallen officers who were murdered while simply doing their job. Now more than ever it is time to show our support for those men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.”

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper also gave a statement, “Again today we mourn for lives lost too soon.” Cooper continued, “The tragedy in Baton Rouge reminds us of the very real danger police officers face while trying to keep our communities safe. I offer my prayers for the families of those lost, as well as the men and women who continue to put their life on the line every day. We must all work together to end this cycle of violence.”

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina shared his thoughts as well, saying, “I am heartbroken by yet another horrific attack against law enforcement. Baton Rouge has seen its share of anguish over the last several weeks, and the cowards who perpetrated today’s attack explicitly defied the community’s united call for peace.”