MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — The law enforcement community nationwide is still in shock after two officers were gunned down in a Las Vegas restaurant on Sunday. All law enforcement agents know the risks that come with upholding the law, but a troubling trend of officers being attacked has agencies looking for better ways to stay safe.
On June 8th, a couple who authorities say had anti-government beliefs, murdered two Las Vegas police officers simply having lunch in a pizza parlor. Lowndes County Deputy Clint Sims knows first hand what it’s like to be attacked while on duty.
“Myself along with my partner Larry Swearingen were ambushed in March of this year. Both of us are recovering and while I’ve been out, I think 4-5 officers have been killed in the line of duty by ambush style attack,” says Sims.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports a 53% increase in officers killed by gunfire this year. In 2013, 45 officers were killed in the line of duty. This year: 62.
“If someone is motivated and dedicated to kill an officer, the odds are really against us,” says Sims.
Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell says shooting attacks on officers in Mississippi have become more common.
“Mississippi leads, or is in the top 5% in the nation in officer shootings,” says Cantrell.
Just two days before Christmas in 2013, Tupelo police officer Kevin Gale Stauffer was shot and killed during an attempted bank robbery. Officer Joseph Maher was also wounded but survived.
Sheriff Cantrell says putting the tactical training to use is vital to staying alive.
“Well we can improve on our tactics. Make sure when you get out of your vehicle, that you’re in contact constantly with your dispatcher. Make sure that backup is on the way and stay in touch with the people that are around you. Law enforcement is not something you should try to do by yourself,” says Cantrell.
Cantrell says what happened in Las Vegas is another tragic example of how society views themselves and the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line every day.
“I honestly think that the generation have lost respect for themselves, lost respect for the community and I think this is a repercussion of what comes down for not having respect for the law,” says Cantrell.
So far this year, 23 law enforcement officers have been killed by gunfire across the country while in the line of duty.
Like Sheriff Cantrell, Deputy Sims also believes that continued training is the best solution to these attacks on officers. Sims believes the training he’s received is what saved his life and the life of his partner.