Local Police Reaction to Ambush Shootings
This past weekend, four police officers were shot while on duty, adding to a violent year in law enforcement.
News 25’s Laurene Callander caught up with local officers to get their reaction on the violence.
It’s not unusual to see police and crime scene tape, but these days we’re seeing more police officers who are the victims at these crime scenes. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, officers killed by gunfire is up 71 percent from last year. The most recent tragedies in St. Louis and San Antonio hit close to home here in our law enforcement community. Gulfport Police Patrolman John Klingenberger said, “I always used to hear police officers were people to actually look up to and now it feels like we’re being looked down on in society.”
Gulfport Police Patrolman John McNeill said, “When I first began, it was rare that you heard of an officer being ambushed, if ever. That’s something that has come up in the last couple of years.”
Officer McNeill is a 28 year veteran on the force. Officer McNeill tells News 25 he is trained to be vigilant, but keeps an eye out now more than ever after the recent attacks. “A simple thing like going to get gas, now I’m more aware of what’s going on. I don’t just stand there and just pump the gas in the car because there’s been instances of officers who have been ambushed in convenience stores.”
A tragic reality this veteran officer tries to drive home to his patrolman-in-training John Klingenberger. “It really drives me to be more professional and drives me to be more vigilant when I’m on the streets and be more aware of my surroundings especially when I’m on a traffic stop or when I’m out on a domestic call or anything like that,” said Klingenberger.
Both Gulfport officers believe the majority of citizens have respect for police and the sacrifices they make, but for the small percentage who do attack and kill men and women for simply being an officer, they are taking away more than a badge. “A father, a brother, a son, they’re taking away somebody that’s very important to their family and not just their blood family, but their law enforcement family,” said McNeill.