Havelock Police Chief calls killing of officers as 'evil'

Law enforcement officials in Craven County reacted with shock and sadness to the shooting deaths Thursday night of five police officers in Dallas.

“We’re saddened by the occurrences there in Dallas,” Craven County Sheriff Jerry Monette said. “Most of us see that as an act of an individual who had some issues and he chose to vent in a violent and inappropriate way.”

The shooting happened as a demonstration about the shooting deaths of two black men by white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota was wrapping up.

“It seems to be from my vantage point that citizens were going about their way in peaceful protest and they were doing it along with the police,” New Bern Police Chief Toussaint Summers said. “I saw several pictures during the march how they posed with police officers to take pictures and then we had a person with ill intent, a criminal, to disrupt a peaceful demonstration and the officers did what we’re trained to do and responded to protect the community.”

Havelock Police Chief David Magnusson said his department’s thoughts and prayers are with those in Dallas.

“I hope this offender’s mindset is isolated in his thinking,” Magnusson said. “I hope that it is not widespread.”

Monette said he fears that human life has somehow been devalued in today’s society.

“I think many across the nation have forgotten how to value human beings and each other,” he said. “I think that’s a large part of the problem. We’ve got to get back to how special each person is and the sanctity of life.”

The sheriff said that no special instructions have been sent out to his deputies and other personnel in response to the shooting.

“We’ll certainly be careful out there and how we do things,” said Monette. “There is always a sense of heightened awareness when these types of situations occur. We live in a pretty great community and we have what I feel is a great relationship with the people of our community, so I feel like everything’s going to be fine at some point.”

Summers said New Bern police have been briefed.

“Supervisors are discussing the issues and talking about the events,” he said. “I basically have issued a statement to the police officers reminding them that our job is a difficult job. The job of police officer is a difficult job and we can’t let the horrific events that occurred in Dallas to forge a wedge between us and our community. You can’t allow criminals to forge that wedge.”

In an email sent to members of his department, Magnusson urged them to “be safe out there. And do not ever lose sight of the fact that you make a difference in people’s lives more than you could ever imagine.”

Magnusson said law enforcement is a calling.

“We are where we are because we answered that call,” Magnusson wrote. “We have done so yesterday, we do so today and we’ll do it tomorrow, with professionalism, caring, ethics, and a strong desire to serve. Quite frankly, it is during these darkest times, that we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and soldier on, because that is what we signed up for.”

Magnusson said the members of his department already have a good relationship with the community, but the shooting of law enforcement officials in Dallas is disheartening.

“This is an outstanding community. It’s a pro-police community, but you take a step back and you realize Dallas is one of the departments at the forefront of positive police community relations,” he said. “There is a great open dialogue there. Everything you’d ever want in a police department, no matter how big or how small, in dealing with community issues, takes place in Dallas. And to a lesser weight class, so to speak, we do the same thing here. But it only takes one person, or two or three, to wreak havoc.”

Summers said the shootings serve as a reminder for residents and police to remain vigilant.

“I would say on a whole it certainly has raised our awareness as it has in the community and I would ask the community to make sure that if they hear something, see something, please say something. Obviously we are all more vigilant,” he said. “I’m sure our community is and obviously our police officers are. We have a tremendous relationship with our community herein that we partner with them through so many events throughout the year, so we don’t wait ‘till a tragic time to get to know our community. We know each other and through that knowledge we have built a great trust and working relationship.”

Monette said the community reached out to him on Friday.

“(Friday) morning, I have had numerous phone calls of support from just people that took the time to call in and tell us how much we’re appreciated for the job we’re doing, and it’s refreshing to get those kinds of calls,” said Monette. “Of course we get some of the other ones, but I’ve had a lot of calls (of support) this morning and it really felt good.”

Magnusson said the Dallas shootings go beyond any cause or reasoning.

“I’m not really concerned about their political motive or what their agenda is,” he said. “At the end of the day, evil is evil is evil. This was evil.”