Cops lead a dangerous life - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cops lead a dangerous life

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A State Capitol police officer was shot in the head this afternoon in downtown Atlanta.

The injured officer, who will recover,  shot back and wounded one of the three suspects.

While the Atlanta policeman will recover from his wound, nationwide, the number of officers killed in the line of duty has increased dramatically, up 43% so far this year.

Eighty-seven law officers were killed between January and June of this year.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek says he's not surprised. He says there's more violence in our streets and criminals have no respect for anyone or anything.

Officer deaths had leveled off for a couple of years, and even dropped off, but now they are back up again.

We spoke to an Albany police officer who had a brush with death a couple of years ago, and an experienced Chief who lost co-workers in the line of duty.

Albany Police Detective Tim Harvey no longer requires the assistance of a cane to walk around. But he still feels the pain of a gunshot that ripped through his leg two years ago.

"I still have pain every day from it," he said.

And every day, he's cautious of everyone around him. "You're always watching. Even when you're home."

Harvey says he's thankful his shooting wasn't worse, and is shocked by some of the ways officers are actively being pursued by criminals.

"The way some of them are dying is surprising, like the ambushes where four or five officers got killed out west, they just got ambushed one morning, some of those deaths are really surprising."

Harvey is lucky to be alive. Some officers didn't have his luck. "I'll never forget the night Randy Brown got shot. That's been almost 30 years ago now."

But it's etched in Dougherty Police Chief Don Cheek's memory. Brown was shot and killed by a burglar. He's one of thousands of officers who have given their lives to protect others. Sadly, that number continues to climb.

"People on the street are, in a lot of regards, just meaner." Cheek says a proliferation of guns on the street, and de-sensitization of people has lead to more danger to officers.

"We're seeing more across the board lack of respect for authority, lack of respect for values of life and there seems to be a demeanor among a lot of offenders of so what?"

And every time an officer is shot, it's something that rips across the entire law enforcement community.

"When an officer gets shot, the whole department grieves, and the whole community should."

For a loss of life, and a loss of the value of life. 

Chief Cheek says young offenders can be especially dangerous. In Detective Harvey's case, 19-year-old Johnny Hill was arrested and later convicted for that shooting. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In Georgia, four officers have died in the line of duty this year, two were shot and two killed in traffic accidents.  

In Georgia, four officers have died in the line of duty this year. Two were shot and two killed in traffic accidents.


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