The month of May has been devastating for the law enforcement community. Since May 6th, three police officers were killed in the line of duty, including in Hattiesburg just this past weekend. May 10th marked the start of National Police Week and thousands will honor fallen police officers all over the nation. Webster County Sheriff Tim Mitchell says serving a rural area has it’s own challenges as law enforcement but following safety procedures can help.
“Our biggest problem is that a lot of times at night, we only work one deputy because we can’t afford to pay. We’re such a small county. It’s a lot nights that we come out ourselves and we back each other up and try to help each other. We have a lot of domestic violence calls and you never want a deputy to go to these calls by themselves,” says Mitchell.
Still, there are some advantages to working in a small community.
“Being a rural community, we know most of the people here. So usually we know who we’re going to deal with before we go deal with them a lot times so that helps,” says Webster County Chief Deputy Jeffrey Mann.
Sheriff Mitchell says the recent killings of police officers weighs heavily on his mind.
“Since this has been going on, I’ve told my guys to be extra careful. That’s one thing you do, when you stop a car, you start getting relaxed and you don’t keep your guard up. I stay on my guys about keeping their guard up because you never know. The next car you stop you’re liable to get shot or you never know what you’re stopping,” says Mitchell.
As officers remember the fallen this week, Chief Deputy Mann says he’ll always pay tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to upholding the law.
“I hold a special place in my heart for everybody that puts this uniform on. It takes a special person to go day-to-day to do that. I believe everyone of them, especially in our community, has the best intention and they just want to make our community a safer place to be,” says Mitchell.
The FBI reports that police killings were up 89% in 2014.
The Columbus Police Department will hold a candle light vigil for fallen officers at 8pm on Wednesday.