Thurston County’s law enforcement community shared its grief Friday over the fallen officers in Dallas.
“This is such a hard day,” said Washington State Patrol Capt. Monica Alexander, her voice cracking with emotion. “…It brings back the memories of what happened in Lakewood, and I think it brings it back for our whole community, not just law enforcement.”
State Patrol troopers and other law enforcement officers around the region placed black mourning bands across their badges, just as they did on Washington’s deadliest day for law enforcement: Four Lakewood Police officers — Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards and Ronald Owens — were shot dead in a coffee shop in November 2009. The suspected killer, Maurice Clemmons, was later fatally shot by a Seattle police officer.
The mourning badges will likely remain in place until after the funeral for the five Dallas police officers who were killed during Thursday night’s mass shooting, said Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Carla Carter.
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“We want to honor their lives and the sacrifices that they’ve made,” she said, adding that Thurston County also began making plans to send two of its honor guard members to the officers’ funerals in Texas.
Although some police agencies around the country, including Seattle, began implementing extra precautions for their officers, such as having officers ride in pairs during patrol, changes weren’t expected in Thurston County.
“We don’t feel the need at this point,” Carter said. “Our citizens are really supportive of our department — I can’t speak more highly of them. And there’s just been an outpouring of support from our citizens. The Dallas shooting, she said, represents “just a small percentage of our population reacting toward our police.”
Alexander said the State Patrol is down 120 officers, so doubling up on patrol isn’t an option for that agency, either.
“The chief sent out a message just reminding us of being careful, being safe,” she said. “And just to be aware of your surroundings. …We know emotions are high and we hope that our communities can remain level-headed and know that we joined this profession because we care about our communities.”
Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint said his department is “grieving with the men and women of the Dallas Police Department.”
He said he watched the Dallas shootings unfold on live television on Thursday night.
“It was horrible, then it continued throughout the night,” he said. “It was just a horrible situation.”
Sgt. Jen Kolb of Tumwater Police was on her way to guard a suspect at a hospital when she heard what was happening in Dallas.
“It was immediate shock and mourning,” she said. “There’s that shock that goes around the tragedy.”
Like other local agencies, neither Tumwater nor Lacey police are making any procedural changes in response to the events that unfolded in Dallas.
“We’ve got a job to do, and we can’t let that color our judgment,” Kolb said.
The police chief and city officials asked Tumwater officers “to remain vigilant, but not be paranoid,” she said.
All of the local agencies reported that they had an outpouring of support from community members on Friday, ranging from social media posts and calls, to emails and comments from people on the street, thanking officers for their service.
“A lot of people have reached out to us and expressed their condolences,” Kolb said. “…It helps inspire us to continue to work hard and remain strong.”
Pierpoint said community support is valued.
“I think law enforcement has been in transition over the last couple of years nationwide,” he said. “As we all continue to work at building community trust and building trust with our citizens, that work will continue. ...We’re not really going to change what we’re doing. We’re going to continue what we’re doing.”