03/16/06 — Everyday danger: Wednesday’s shooting should remind us of risks for officers

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Everyday danger: Wednesday’s shooting should remind us of risks for officers

We might shudder when we hear a story like the report Wednesday of an officer whose vest was all that stood between him and being shot in the chest by a suspect while he and the members of the Wayne County Drug Squad raided the suspected offender’s home.

We are glad Goldsboro police Capt. Brady Thompson is OK. We are glad he had the vest.

But what stories like this one should bring into sharp focus for us is just how grateful we should be that there are men and women willing to put on a badge or an undercover “disguise” just to make sure that drug dealers and other criminals are put out of business.

And we should be reminded just how dangerous — and important — their jobs are.

Wednesday’s shooting did not occur in the middle of the night in an out-of-the-way neighborhood.

It was 9:30 a.m., only a couple of hours after the children in the neighborhood probably headed off to school.

The officer was shot square in the chest, without hesitation and without warning. The actual progress of events will be detailed for a judge in the future, but it is difficult to see how the perpetrator meant to do anything other than shoot to kill.

And that is what being a drug officer is like — or any other law enforcement official for that matter. You never know what is going to happen when you serve a warrant, walk up to a car you have just pulled off the highway or otherwise confront unstable and potentially dangerous criminals.

There are many, many stories of officers whose seemingly routine traffic stops or arrests ended in death or serious injury to the officer involved.

So, considering the risks, it is a wonder that anyone wants to be in law enforcement at all. That makes those who do choose the career heroes.

But there is something we can do, too, to make sure these men and women are able to continue to do their jobs safely. We can make sure they have enough resources and are compensated appropriately for the work they are doing. We can enact tough laws to curb criminals who choose to shoot or otherwise endanger their lives.

And we can be watchdogs ourselves. Reporting potential wrongdoing and helping officers find suspects are great ways to take a bite out of crime.

Published in Editorials on March 16, 2006 10:50 AM