SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — While responding to a call as a law enforcement officer always carries the risk of danger, the local leader of the police union said simply riding in your department-issued vehicle should not.
On Tuesday night, a Suffolk Police cruiser was shot three times while it was being driven in the area of the 200 block of North Broad Street around 7:25 p.m., according to a release from the city.
The officer was not injured, but it’s what could have happened that concerns Sheriff’s Deputy Sandy Toby, president of Suffolk Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 41.
“We’re startled and, yeah, absolutely shaken up, because all you see on the news is these shooting these shooting and these shootings … and now it’s here,” Toby said.
In recent months, anti-police rhetoric and sentiments have increased according to multiple law enforcement agencies in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. His death also prompted protests and demonstrations across the country and world that pushed for police reform. The four officers involved have been charged in his death.
Within the last week, two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were seriously injured after they were ambushed. Surveillance video from the scene showed the two deputies being shot at point-blank range while they were sitting inside their patrol car.
“Every time you get in a marked unit, you’re a target now?” Toby said.
Suffolk Police have not confirmed if they believe the cruiser was targeted because it was a police cruiser.
While police search for a suspect, Toby said the FOP is reminding law enforcement officers to rely on their training and to always be vigilant.
“Keep your head on a swivel, keep looking around you and keep assessing the dangers,” Toby said.
She said she appreciates those in the community who continue to go out of their way to show support for law enforcement. It helps remind them that they’re “not alone.”
She is also confident officers will continue to serve, despite the increasing risks.
“We all have this … DNA in us that makes us go to work and serve our community,” Toby said. “We are out there to help people, not hurt people.”
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