04/08/09 — Tragic loss: Sometimes communities forget danger their officers face

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Tragic loss: Sometimes communities forget danger their officers face

They were just doing their jobs.

Two Lenoir County deputies got a call about a man who was posing a danger to their community and they headed to the scene.

Little did they know that they would be greeted by an automatic weapon and that one of them would die and the other would be fighting for his life in the hospital today.

They were likely family men, with wives and children who are now on their own. They likely were young, with lots of life left to live.

The sad thing is, the story has been all too common lately.

Another set of officers died earlier this week when they answered an alleged emergency call -- only to be greeted with gunfire by a crazed suspect. The man had been waiting for the officers -- gun in hand.

When talk comes about cutting budgets and funds for law enforcement equipment and personnel, we sometimes lose perspective as we look for places to save money.

We forget just what kind of risk these people take every day -- and how lucky we are that they are on the job protecting their communities.

And then, something like this happens, and we remember just how easily it could have been a Wayne County sheriff's deputy, a Goldsboro police officer -- or even a North Carolina Highway Patrol patrolman.

There have always been crazy people in the world -- and men and women who do not care whom they hurt or how many people die as a result of their rampages.

And law enforcement officers never know if the call they are answering is going to end up with them coming face to face with one of these psychopaths.

And that is why we need to do everything we can to make sure our law enforcement personnel are protected as much as possible and are appreciated for the hard work they do and the risks they face.

While we are at it, we should keep in mind that a law enforcement officer must make life or death decisions in moments -- usually while staring into the barrel of a gun.

The news of the death of the Lenoir deputy is a sobering realization that this is a dangerous world full of dangerous people with no regard for authority or human life.

Keeping our community safe should be as much a priority as anything else we are funding this year.

Published in Editorials on April 8, 2009 11:06 AM