Officer says being killed on duty is always in their minds

Col. Mark Shirley says sometimes officers become complacent about their jobs, but he says it just takes that one time

Deaths of police officers in the line of duty increased 37 percent compared to last year, jumping to 160 from 117, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

"You get into this line of work to serve the people, to serve the public, to serve the community," says Col. Mark Shirley with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

But serving could become severe at any moment.

"Of course you think about it but you can't dwell on that kind of stuff," says Lt. Jason Hager with the Dougherty County Police.

Dougherty County Police Officer Lt. Cliff Rouse was shot and killed on Thursday. Now, Trooper First Class Chad LeCroy of the Georgia State Patrol is dead after being shot during a traffic stop in Atlanta.

The Georgia State Patrol in Atlanta says they "greatly appreciate and acknowledge the outpouring of sympathy from across the United States during this difficult time."

Knowing their comrades were killed unexpectedly on duty, does the thought of coming face to face with a gun worry them?

Col. Mark Shirley from the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office says he and fellow offers do not go out on the job thinking they put their lives on the line every day.

"It's always there in the back of your mind it could happen, but you always think it could never happen to you," says Hager.

Officers say while they can sometimes get complacent and comfortable at their job, they say it just takes that one time.

"You never know what's going to happen; you never know. But from our perspective you can't worry about what could happen," says Shirley.

Shirley says he knows deputies who were threatened with a gun while serving criminal arrest warrants. One time he says deputies went to arrest a man who they arrested multiple times before with no problem; this time, he took a gun from the officer's holster, wrestled the officer to the ground and held the gun to his head. Shirley says it's fortunate the man did not shoot.

For this reason, Shirley warns those who join the police force that they aren't superheroes.

"I used to joke with some of our younger officers. I said, 'Just because we wear a badge doesn't mean we've got this big S on our chest. We're not Superman,'" says Shirley.

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