Carmel police say it was a tough day to go work on Friday, July 8. The night before in Dallas a sniper shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others.
The deaths came after a protest, where protesters had been reacting to the fatal shootings of black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana earlier this week.
But as local police officers showed up to the police headquarters the next day in Carmel— still recovering from the loss of their brothers in blue in another city — gifts and well wishes flooded the station. Officers received donuts, cookies, cakes, and pastries. There were flowers, cards, e-mails and phone calls; all letting Carmel police officers know that the public is thinking of them. One note, stuck onto a cake sent from Kroger, simply read, “Be safe!!”
“We do appreciate that the public supports the work the police officers do in Carmel,” Assistant Chief of Police James C. Barlow said. “Even though it was in another city, it does weigh on us. Police officers risk their lives every day and even in a safe community like Carmel every officer thinks about it. So we appreciate that the public cares and wants us to stay safe.”
He said CPD officers are trained to use nonlethal actions when necessary such as stun-guns and pepper spray and they are properly equipped. He said unfortunately lethal force can sometimes be necessary, but CPD officers are trained on how to properly make split decisions.
One instance he noted, is that sometimes it can be tricky identifying a suspect. The Dallas police sent a photo out on Twitter of a possible suspect immediately after the shooting, but it turned out to be an innocent man who no connection to the shooting. The actual suspect was confronted and died after a bomb robot was detonated during negotiations with police.
“It’s a balancing act because you want to get information out quickly because if you are able to apprehend the suspect quickly you could prevent further violence,” Barlow said. “But at the same time, you can’t rush to the point where you make a mistake.”
Unfortunately, Barlow said there’s a divide growing nationwide. He said he hopes people would examine the facts and understand that the police are here to protect and serve. He said CPD regularly conducts education in the schools and does community outreach projects to build trust with the public, noting that the department also recruits men and women officers of all ethnicities and races so the department can reflect the community it serves.
“I just hope people can take a step back,” he said. “Maybe this can be a turning point.”
The City of Carmel lowered its flag at half-staff in order to honor the lives of the Dallas officers who died. No extra security measures were taken.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard released a statement on Friday.
“It is always a tragedy when lives are lost, but it seems especially saddening when it is the result of hatred or intolerance toward others,” he stated. “The police officers shot in Dallas were there to protect the rights of the peaceful protesters. I join others in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families, co-workers and friends of the officers lost in the line of duty, to those of the injured officers and civilians and to the people of Dallas. I know that under the leadership of Mayor Mike Rawlings the city can heal as a community and find common ground on which to stand together to battle all forms of violence toward one another.”
CPD Chief Tim Green also released a statement honoring those that were lost.
“The deaths of the officers in Dallas are a stark reminder of the risks our public safety personnel take each day,” he stated. “Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in this attack. It reminds us of the importance of continuing to be vigilant and well trained. As an accredited police department with a strong and supportive law enforcement community, it will be our goal to learn what we can from this senseless act and incorporate those lessons into our training. However, there are times when no amount of training can prevent all injuries or deaths when someone is determined to take the lives of others. The Carmel Police Department appreciates the outpouring of support that has been shown since this tragedy. In times like these, this type of support means a lot to all the officers and employees of the police department.”