Officer shootings stir safety concerns within local law enforcement

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BEDFORD (WSLS10) - As the manhunt continues for the suspects wanted for murdering an Illinois police officer, the Bedford County Sheriff's Department said it is concerned officer assassinations are becoming more common.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial -- 26 officers have died in gun-related events so far this year. Bedford sheriff's deputies are working to avoid being part of that statistic. They said they regularly handle calls where they don't always know the situation they're walking into, or if a person is armed.

Cruiser cameras and license plate readers two tools used to help protect them, but deputies admit when they put on the uniform, they know what they are signing up for.

"It boils down to the individual; the mindset is to go to work in the morning and to come home alive at night," said Bedford County Sheriff Michael Brown.

From radios, to K-9 units, handcuffs and body cameras, the department they prepare their deputies for most situations. However, even with training, "you realize that every day you are out there in uniform there are people looking at you that probably just really don't like you," Sheriff Brown explained.

Sheriff Brown said he believes his officers are working during one of the most dangerous times of his 50-years in law enforcement.

Events like Ferguson and the Illinois shooting weigh on law enforcement.

"We've had comments from all of them saying ‘this is really getting rough out there'," Sheriff Brown said.

But the public spotlight on officer shootings doesn't seem to have deterred interest in the job. Sheriff Brown said application rates for the department were holding steady an more than six were interviewed for open positions during the first week of September.