Who is protecting our police officers?

Justin Dinis, Staff Reporter

Terrence Carraway (52), a 30-year-old veteran of the Florence Police Department, was shot and killed in South Carolina during a standoff that had begun hours earlier on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Among him were six other injured law enforcement officers, Travis Scott (34), Brian Hart (40), Scott Williamson (43), of the Florence Police Department, as well as investigators Sarah Miller, Farrah Turner (36), and Deputy Arie Davis (25), of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

On the 28th of October, 2018, Officer Carraway would have been with the Florence Police Department for 31 years.

Keywords: would have.

Unfortunately, after undergoing nine surgeries and remaining in critical condition, Officer Turner also succumbed to her wounds on October 22, 2018.

On October 20, 2018, Gwinnett County Police officer Antwan Toney (30) was shot and killed in the field by two men, one of which was ultimately killed, confirmed by Bureau Chief Tony Thomas.

Officer Toney had just turned 30-years-old and was just six days away from celebrating his third anniversary with Gwinnett County police.

Just six days.

Officers Carraway, Toney, and Turner are unfortunately not alone – according to Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), there have been a total of 122 line of duty deaths (LODDs) in the year of 2018 alone, and the year isn’t even over yet. In the past five years there have been 867 LODDs, 244 of those being due to gunfire.

To many people, the statistics provided by ODMP, in regards to LODDs, is quite shocking as they were not aware it was so high. A cause of this could be that many of them receive minimum news coverage, if at all.

Just recently, on October 27, 2018, four law enforcement officers – two city policemen and two SWAT team officers – were injured during a shooting where a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. A 40-year-old officer is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at UPMC Presbyterian and another officer, a 55-year-old, is in stable condition. A 27-year-old officer was released from UPMC at 6 a.m. ET on October 29, 2018. A fourth officer, whose age is unknown, is no longer hospitalized.  

But, who protects these law enforcement officers – ordinary people like us – from the violence, especially gun violence, they face in order to protect us?

The answer? Legislators and the legislation they create and pass, as well as our support.

On July 9, 2016, Barack Obama, at his news conference in Warsaw, Poland, criticized Texas open carry laws, contending that police safety rests on gun control, saying, “So if you care about the safety of our police officers, then you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that that’s irrelevant.

This news conference was after five Dallas police officers were killed as payback on July 7, 2016. According to The Washington Post, Micah Xavier Johnson (25 at the time) told police officers, “he was upset about the recent police shootings” and “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” To simplify, Johnson gunned down officers in downtown Dallas, specifically set out to kill as many white officers as he could.

Johnson was a military veteran who served in Afghanistan, keeping a heavy arsenal in his home which included bomb-making materials.

“So there is sorrow, there is anger, there is confusion about next steps. But there’s unity in recognizing that this is not how we want our communities to operate. This is not who we want to be as Americans,” Obama went on to say at the same news conference.

Nonetheless, the list goes on and on of shootings targeted towards police officers, such as the 2016 shooting of Baton Rouge, 2009 shooting of Lakewood, 2009 shooting of Pittsburgh, and the 2009 shootings of Oakland. Undoubtedly, there is a need of protection for our officers which might start at gun control and reform.

Besides gun control and reform, which is already a complex and highly debated issue, there are other matters that legislators and we can do to help ensure the safety of officers that are in the field. We can protest the senseless killings of police officers and encourage legislators to propose new legislation in hopes of counteracting more officer deaths.

Sadly, in today’s current age, the stigma behind police officers and the senseless shootings and police brutality of innocent people. This issue is not one-sided. It is because of this that legislation needs to be passed not only for police officers, but also citizens.

However, it is also known the sacrifice that each of these officers are signing up for each and every day they put on the uniform, much like those in the army. They put themselves on the line to protect us, our freedoms, and our rights from the harsh world we sadly live in. Many, including children, want to grow up to be police officers, their real-world superheroes. It would be unrealistic to attempt to stop police officer and citizen deaths in all, but it is worthy enough to try and reduce these statistics.

It is up to legislators and people like us to help ensure the safety of police, as well as citizens. I mean, behind every superhero is a team, right?