Tri-State police pair patrols, consider community relations after Dallas police shootings

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 17:17:48-04

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati police were wearing black tape across their badges Friday as a sign that they’re mourning the officers killed in Dallas Thursday night.

Local departments are feeling the impact of the Dallas police officer shootings. That means renewed training, doubling up on patrols and being aware of their surroundings.

Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Dan Hils said the ambush in Dallas that left five officers dead, seven officers injured and two civilians injured was “like somebody has declared war on the police and in turn … they declared war on America.”

Pairing up patrols “gives officers an opportunity to be with one another, to bounce things off of one another so they don’t feel so alone in the world,” Hils said.

Hils said police were still “in shock” the day after the shootings and shared some advice for FOP members: “Lean on each other. Lean on family. And then one thing is to turn it off. At some point when you go home, don’t keep watching the news coverage, don’t keep reading about it. Turn it off for a little bit. Spend time with family. Spend time doing something completely different than thinking about this.”

Some other Tri-State police departments, like Norwood, were also pairing officers for patrols. In Newtown, Police Chief Tom Synan’s message for officers was to be professional, be respectful and don’t go out on patrol in judgement.

“We try to continue the things we’ve been doing, and that is train – train both physically and mentally and emotionally – that we accept these things, that we walk this balance of trying to be a professional while trying to be a human being,” Synan said.

The Cincinnati City Council’s law and public safety chair, Christopher Smitherman, called the killings barbaric and said he was stunned by social media postings.

“There are people tweeting me trying to justify what has happened,” Smitherman said. “There is no justification for the violence we saw in Dallas.”

As local officers continue to work despite the upsetting events, Cincinnati City Councilmember Wendell Young said residents can reach out as well.

“Every time you get the opportunity, let officers know that you appreciate them,” Young said. “That may not seem like a whole lot, but it goes a long way.”

Police can also help improve their relations with the community, Young said.

“Every time you get the opportunity, do something that reflects well upon the department, do something that reflects well on you, do something that makes clear to people that you’re here to protect and serve, not to occupy, not to destroy, not to hurt people.”

Mayor John Cranley said Cincinnati has already made progress in civil rights and police-community relations that the city can be proud of.

“We will continue to talk to each other, care for each other and worry about all lives,” Cranley said.

Hils and Synan said they know most residents support what they’re doing, and they’re continually trying to get better each day on the job.

“They know – the vast majority knows – that we’re not the things that some people paint us to be,” Hils said. “We are not racist. We are not out to hurt anybody. We’re out to do our very best to serve and to save lives.”