JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - In light of the deadly shooting of two New York City police officers on Saturday, local law enforcement across the country is on high alert. Even in Jonesboro, deadly police shootings remind officers that anything can happen.
Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said his heart goes out to the two officers, their families, and the New York Police Department. He said, unfortunately, this is something he has seen a lot of in his 24 years. Each day, the number one goal for officers is to return home safely.
"It's one of my greatest fears being the sheriff is having an officer that is injured or killed on duty," Boyd said. "That's the greatest fear I have every day."
Boyd said officers are trained to be vigilant.
"Anything that we can do to make that officer be better trained, more aware, more professional, that's what we intend to do," Boyd said.
Those things include extended training, classes focusing on scenarios, and mental strength development. Lieutenant Phillip Wheaton has 17 years of experience. He said he's thankful for the extra training time.
"From the time I started until now, there is definitely more training," Wheaton said. "The guns have become different. The situations are different."
He said being out in a patrol car brings a lot of unknowns.
"You've always got to have your guard up," Wheaton said. "You never know what the other person is thinking, so you know you've always got to anticipate the first move."
Boyd said officers face unknown dangers every day, and police shootings happen more than the public realizes.
"Unfortunately it's not the first time we've seen it, and unfortunately it's not going to be the last," Boyd said.
He said the extra training and verbal reminders to officers is all he can do to warn of the dangers.
"Try to keep officer safety level at a constant high," Boyd said. "We send officers to classes. We have routine training that we do to try and keep that level of awareness up. Be aware of your surroundings, what's going on."
For Wheaton and his family, fear of not coming home at night is rarely discussed, but part of the job.
"Today could be my last day," Wheaton said. "Tomorrow could be. We don't know."