Standing in a circle outside of the Bargersville Police Department, officers and residents held hands as they bowed their head in prayer.
In between each prayer, officers — with their badges covered by a black ribbon — looked at the crowd that showed up for the impromptu prayer vigil with a sense of comfort and appreciation.
When more than 100 police officers and sheriff’s deputies headed out to patrol Johnson County communities Friday, 11 of their fellow officers in Dallas were on their minds, along with the grim reality of the risk they face each day.
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Whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, fellow law enforcement officers feel that pain. And each officer is reminded of the dangers they can face while on the job.
But the shootings in Dallas felt heavier, since it was the most deadly day for police since the Sept. 11 attacks. And as the day went on, more officers were shot in Georgia and Missouri.
“It’s bothersome. I have an empty pit in my stomach that I haven’t felt since 9/11,” Greenwood Police Chief John Laut said. “This affects everyone emotionally. To be targeted and ambushed the way (police) were in Dallas — it’s not just an attack on police, it’s an attack on our society.”
Laut sent an email to each of his 58 officers on Friday morning, asking them to wear their black bands over their badges as a sign of mourning and solidarity with Dallas police. Normally, those bands are only worn when a police officer is killed in Indiana, but the department will wear them until the last slain Dallas police officer is buried, Laut said.
He also reminded them to be extra diligent during their shifts and that the majority of people support police.
That was the message Bargersville resident Dustin Doyle wanted to get across with a prayer vigil outside of the police department on Friday to help the healing process for officers. Doyle posted his plans on Facebook around 9 a.m., then quickly saw his post spread among his friends. Three hours later, about 30 people, including more than 10 officers, were at the vigil.
“This type of (crime) won’t last in this country because officers won’t allow it,” Doyle said. “Bringing everyone together, I thought, would show our support and appreciation for the work police officers do.”
The shootings were on everyone’s mind on Friday morning. When Bargersville Police Chief Judd Green left his home for work, his wife hugged him a little bit longer than usual, Green said.
Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox met with Chief Deputy Randy Werden Friday morning to discuss the tragic shootings and how it will affect deputies. Cox also wanted to make sure his deputies took some extra time to think about their feelings or opinions on social media during a tumultuous time.
Cox understood the volatile emotions from two police-action shootings across the country this week but was also trying to comprehend what had happened to the 11 officers in Dallas.
“It’s a sad day for law enforcement. Those Dallas officers had nothing to do with everything going on around the country — it’s nonsense. We’re not going to tolerate people killing police officers,” Cox said.
“We just need to take a look at how (law enforcement officers) are doing things. We do have some bad apples in this profession, but there are very few. If an officer does something wrong here, I would support the prosecutor in holding them accountable. Police are not above the law.”
Local law enforcement leaders said they don’t expect their officers to act any differently in their jobs.
Police officers don’t have time to worry about the what-ifs every time they get in their cars to head out on patrol, Laut said.
The risks they face are always in the back of their mind, but just like any other day, police will continue to go out and do their job, Laut said.
Officers will not work in fear, Laut and Cox said.
“I have 56 different personalities here, and I’ve had a conversation with (each). They go to the academy, they spent weeks learning this trade, then they learn while they’re on the job,” Cox said. “They know how to conduct themselves. I think we have a good (department).”
It is frustrating and troubling when people judge all police officers for the actions of one, or a few, especially while those situations are still being investigated, Franklin Deputy Police Chief Chris Tennell said.
Both Tennell and Cox would like to see people let the investigations and the judicial process run its course and not be angry with the entire law enforcement community, they said.