Dread and Anguish for Police:‘We’ve Seen Nothing Like This’
BATON ROUGE--“Officer down!” an officer screamed frantically into his police radio Sunday morning in Baton Rouge, La. “Shots fired! Officer down!”
One of the most dreaded calls in policing triggered a surge of officers to the city’s Airline Highway, not far from Police Headquarters, an agonizing replay of the distress calls 10 days earlier that prompted the Dallas police to scramble to the aid of their fallen colleagues.
The twin attacks--three officers dead Sunday in Baton Rouge, five killed on July 7 in Dallas, along with at least 12 injured over all--have set off a period of fear, anguish and confusion among the nation’s 900,000 state and local law enforcement officers. Even the most hardened veterans call this one of the most charged moments of policing they have experienced.
Officers from Seattle to New Orleans are pairing up in squad cars for added safety and keeping their eyes open for snipers while walking posts. It is an anxious time: Officers must handle not only vocal denunciations from peaceful protesters who criticize abusive policing, but also physical attacks by a tiny few on the periphery.
Law enforcement officials said it had been generations since the nation endured two separate episodes in which so many police officers were killed.
“We’ve seen nothing like this at all,” said Darrel W. Stephens, the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and an instructor at the Public Safety Leadership Program at Johns Hopkins University. “The average officer in America, who was tense anyway, their tension and vigilance is going to increase even more. Police officers have always been vulnerable, and they
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