From The Taos News
As I watched the ambush that led to the death of five Dallas police officers, and injury to seven other officers and two civilians unfold last week, I could not help but begin to think about our own community.
I could not help but think how relatively even and respectful past events have been and how we as law enforcement have prepared and respond to such events. Protesters, marches and rallies are not a real common sight here, certainly not like what we see in other major cities, but there have been a few where our deputies and local officers stand a line to keep the peace while respecting protesters and organizers from both sides — yet keeping them at bay and supporting each side’s rights to peaceful assembly and speech.
What I saw and heard reported by a few media sources made my blood boil as they repeatedly said “peaceful protest” turns into shooting and killing in retaliation for “police violence” across the country.
Violence to stop violence? Really? Like most, I didn’t buy in to the initial reports — speculation reporting. But like thousands of others, a small part of me had to ponder the thought: could the organizers have set this ambush up? Is the Black Lives Matter movement taking this to a higher level? Nah, surely not. And now we know, indeed, not.
Fortunately other sources were far less speculative in their reporting. As we know now, this mass killing was a lone radical gunman — a Texas born 25 year old Army reservist named Micah Johnson that took advantage of the place and time of this rally/protest to cause havoc and kill officers.
Johnson has been described by his friends as a “loner.” He had no criminal record, yet a pile of weapons and bomb making material in his house. He allegedly told hostage negotiators just before his death that he wanted to “kill white people,” and was driven to his attack by recent events in which blacks were killed by cops. The Baton Rouge incident was the most recent controversial police killing that sparked the Dallas protest. Alton Sterling was killed by officers when they responded to a convenience store for a man threatening another man with a gun. Sterling resisted arrest and was fatally shot after the officers wrestled with him to the ground, presumably while he had his gun still in his pocket.
Perhaps the most important thing I saw was how the Dallas officers responded. One reporter was quick to recognize that officers immediately ran toward the action to protect those, that only minutes before, were criticizing them with hatred. The footage as the active shooting unfolded was all too real and shows Dallas officers directing the protesters to safety while running toward where they believed the shooter was located in an attempt to isolate him and protect innocent lives.
Watching this made me proud — proud to see officers trained to go toward the shooting to stop the action – the same way we have trained in an active shooter situation. May God be with us when we are called to protect our community in such a manner.
Of course it didn’t take long for “guns” and “gun control” to become the target of the media and the criticism of Texas’ recent “open carry” law to be brought into discussion. Whichever side you take matters not to me, I respect your right to your opinion. But I will say that I got a lump in my throat when I saw an armed civilian kneeling beside a fallen police officer with his gun drawn in what I believe was a way to protect this man from further harm. Kudos sir!
It didn’t take long, either, for the criticism of “police militarization” to be brought to the table, even though the Dallas police just engaged with an Army-trained man that killed five and wounded nine. Police facing an Army-trained active shooter might just justify why police need military grade equipment and training, don’t you think?
Some may take what I have written in a way other than it is intended, but as your elected sheriff, and supporter of transparent government at all levels, I want you to know where I stand, and that my commitment to give this community the best trained and equipped deputies is genuine. That is why we at the Taos County Sheriff’s Office have trained for the worst while hoping for the best. The best we can become, the best to protect our community.
All lives matter.