ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The recent deputy-involved shootings over the past few weeks in North Carolina have taken a toll on law enforcement in the Piedmont Triad.
Departments are discussing ways to keep their teams safe.
FOX8 crews did a ride-along with Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page and a sergeant with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office on Friday afternoon.
Neither of the two knows the deputy killed in Wake County Thursday night, but they said when one agency suffers a loss, the entire profession hurts.
“Anytime we have someone that takes a life of one of our officers across the country, that’s an attack on every law enforcement officer in the state,” Page said.
Page wants to protect his deputies to avoid a deadly shooting like the one in Wake County.
“You plan how you fight, and you fight the way you train,” he said.
Every morning and afternoon at shift change, Page meets with his deputies for a briefing.
“I tell the deputies this: there are a lot of people in Rockingham County that love you and care about you,” Page said. “But there’s a small amount of offenders that don’t care, and if the right situation unveils itself, they may try to harm us or may try to take your life, and you’ve got to be prepared for those threats.”
Then his deputies get into their cars and head out into the community.
“Every day, my girls and guys go out here, and I worry about them every day,” Page said.
It’s a fear that’s amplified by the four deputy-involved shootings in North Carolina in the past three weeks and shared by law enforcement officers at other agencies.
When Sergeant Mary Buchanan with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office responds to a call, she has to be ready for anything.
“Nowadays, you don’t know,” she said. “Any call could be that call where it ends up being a critical incident even if it doesn’t seem as if it is.”
The job has changed in the past 11 years she’s been with the sheriff’s office as the frequency of deputy-involved shootings grows.
“It definitely puts everything in perspective of our families and our lives and what we’re doing here every day putting our lives on the line every day to save others,” Buchanan said.
The law enforcement officers are protecting you while training to protect themselves.
“I always tell the deputies starting thinking what if?” Page said. “What if this occurs? What would be a safe action to take?”
They’re making sure they take the right precautions, so they’ll make it home safely to their families.
“We’ve had officers who were shot in the line of duty, and they survived,” Page said. “I pray we never have to lose a deputy or police officer or anybody in the criminal justice system out here.”
Both these law enforcement officers said they took an oath to protect and serve. They plan to continue doing just that no matter the risk.
They ask that you keep the families of the North Carolina deputies injured and killed in your thoughts and prayers.