Behind the badge: The dangers of policing

LAUDERDALE & KEMPER CO., Miss. (WTOK) - It’s been a dangerous and deadly start to the year for officers across the United States. Ohio authorities continue to investigate the shooting deaths of two police officers who were ambushed while responding to a 9-1-1 call Saturday. In all, 7 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in the US since last Monday. Those line of duty deaths have local officers concerned.

“Every call that law enforcement responds to could be the last call they go to,” said Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie.

Police work has always been dangerous, but the dangers law enforcement officers face every time they put on the badge has gotten worse.

“As first responder, you never know what the call may be. It could be a simple call that it there’s a dispute between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, family member, and by the time officers get on scene it has escalated and you just don’t know what may happen,” said Kemper County Sheriff James Moore.

In Kemper County, Sheriff Moore says his officers are trained on how to minimize risks before deadly force is involved, but says even routine calls can take unexpected turns. Sheriff Moore, his deputies and others in the community are reminded of the tragedy that happened in Kemper County 21 years ago, when Sheriff Mike McKee was shot and killed while responded to a domestic disturbance call.

“There was a domestic call where a son was into it with his father and mother. And Sheriff McKee answered the call and at that time it turned deadly and he was shot and killed at the scene. So, it could very well happen. It happens in large cities you see all the time, but right here in smaller counties and smaller states, it happens all the time,” said Sheriff Moore.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie says training has increased in recent years to prevent such tragedy.

“So officers are getting better training, more officers are wearing their ballistic vests for their own protection and of course training for those officers on how to use lethal or non-lethal tactics are every increasing,” said Sheriff Sollie.

The message? Tragedy can strike anywhere and at anytime.

“In just a split second something can go wrong, and all it takes is that split second,” said Sheriff Moore.

A total of 11 officers around the country have been shot to death since the start of 2018.