With the number of police officers dying on the rise, Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared Monday, Sept. 14 as a day of prayer for them.
He issued a statement Thursday asking Louisianians to unite in prayer for law enforcement.
“Too often, we forget the sacrifice and commitment these brave men and women make on a daily basis in order to protect our families and uphold the peace in our communities,” he said. “Our officers understand the real risk and responsibility that comes with this career and we are extremely grateful for their dedicated service.”
Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton says he appreciates the support he’s seen from the community in recent weeks, with the first responders’ luncheon and the upcoming appreciation dinner set to be hosted by First Baptist Church Sunday, Sept. 13.
“We appreciate the concerns of not only the governor, but the appreciation days recently,” he said. “We appreciate everybody’s concern. Law enforcement has taken a hit because of some incidences that have taken place across this country. Really, we were getting a bad rap. I’m not saying law enforcement is perfect, but these officers have to make split-second decisions.”
Shreveport police officer Thomas LaValley was shot and killed Wednesday, Aug. 5 after responding to a domestic violence call.
Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent was shot and killed Sunday, Aug. 23, during a traffic encounter.
Police in Fox Lake, Illinois, as of this writing, are still looking for three suspects in connection with the slaying of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz. The circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation, national news media reports.
Abilene, Texas, police officer Don Allen was off-duty when he was killed in his home Monday, Aug. 31. That case is also still under investigation, national news media reports.
“Because of what’s happened, in this department, our officers are on our p’s and q’s,” Sexton said. “We are way more attentive than what we were.”
Even with having the added advantage of policing smaller communities where everyone knows everyone, there are still unknowns and things to watch for, he says.
Minden police chief Steve Cropper says it feels good to know the community supports law enforcement, that what they do
every day is worth it.
“It’s been a blessing,” he said. “Especially this first responders’ luncheon we just went to. It meant a lot to my officers; it meant a lot to me. It makes them realize that some people in this city care about us.”
Cropper says he appreciates Gov. Jindal for recognizing law enforcement statewide. With the killings across the nation, the chief says it impacts his officers here.
Because of that, his officers are coming to work wearing their ballistics vests every day. They are more attentive to their surroundings and more cautious as they conduct their business throughout the day, he said.
“I worry about these guys every day,” Cropper said. “I used to tell them good bye before I walked out of here every day,
now I tell them to watch their backs and be safe. It puts a different type of stress on us, even something as simple as going into a convenience store to get a cold drink.”
When asked if he thought the constant media coverage played a role in the rise of law enforcement deaths, he said, “Yes.”
According to statistics from the governor’s office, nine law enforcement officials in Louisiana have died in the line of duty this year.
Jindal also asked governors and other officials from other states to set aside Sept. 14 to pray for law enforcement.