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By MIKE SANDROLINI
The July 7 shootings that took the lives of five Dallas police officers and wounded nine others has been a topic of conversation among local police chiefs and their officers. Three police chiefs in the West Suburban Journal coverage area—Andre Harvey of Bellwood, Steven Stelter of Westchester and Val Talley of Maywood—all commented on the shootings in Dallas, which occurred toward the end of a peaceful demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter against the fatal police-involved shootings of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. The suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson, an Afghanistan War veteran, ambushed a group of officers. Johnson fled the scene and was later killed by police with a bomb attached to a remote control bomb disposal robot. On Sunday morning, three Baton Rouge police officers were killed and three wounded after they were ambushed by a 29-year-old Kansas City man, Gavin Long, a former Marine who served in Iraq. Long was killed in a gun battle with police. (Editor’s note: Harvey, Stelter and Talley were interviewed last week prior to Sunday’s incident in Baton Rouge.) “Yes, we talked about the (Dallas) incident,” Harvey said.
“Not just about police being shot but police-involved shootings. In doing that, it lets us think about more training, how to protect ourselves and how to watch our backs. It actually brings us closer together for us working as teams. The day after the Dallas shooting, I put out a department-wide email basically telling all my officers that it’s a sad moment for us in this profession, but (to) keep their heads up and keep doing the job that the do,” Stelter said. “They do a great job, encouraging them and solidifying the fact that we’re the good guys and we’re out there doing a job, and for them to just keep on doing the great work that they’re doing.” When asked if he and Maywood Police officers have been talking about the Dallas shootings, Talley replied, “Absolutely.” “It’s a concern with our officers,” he said.
“Here you had a peaceful protest with the city of Dallas and you have five of our brethren shot. And there is no rhyme or reason as to why. It just takes everybody off track. Not only did they get slain, but in Michigan there were two other deputies that got slain the same week. Two bailiffs; they were just doing their jobs and somehow a man with a firearm got in there and shot two of them.”
Talley is referring to two bailiffs who were shot and killed on July 11 inside a St. Joseph, Mich., courthouse by a prisoner who took a gun from one of the bailiffs and started shooting as he tried to escape custody. Two others were wounded in the shooting. Talley is of the opinion that the killings of the Dallas police officers, combined with such highly publicized cases in recent years of fatal shootings by police in Ferguson, Mo.—and closer to home, the shootings involving Laquan McDonald and Ronald Johnson in Chicago—have police walking on eggshells. “I think they are,” he said, “because what happens in Louisiana, in Ferguson, Mo., and in Chicago, people see us as a singular entity. They don’t look at us as (for example), Chief Talley as a policeman. What they look at is, ‘You cops are bad.’ Because there is a fraternity of police, they think that we’re all the same, and that’s just not true.” Stelter, who took over as Westchester Police Chief in February, said, “I don’t know if we can collectively say it’s affecting everybody the same way. They’re all affected differently. Some officers, it doesn’t affect them at all; they go out there and they do their job, and you know that this job is