YUMA COUNTY, Ariz. – Sheriff Leon Wilmot issues statement to address media inquiries about the shooting that killed five Dallas, Texas police officers Thursday night.
First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Dallas Police Department, the families of the fallen Officers, and the survivors of this tragic event. The question has been raised as to what steps can be taken to prevent an incident such as this from happening in Yuma. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer because you can’t legislate morality. Each individual makes a choice to obey the law or not. However, as a law enforcement community, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our citizens and maintain constant collaboration with our local, state and federal partners, as well as our citizens, to gather and share any information regarding potential threats to our community.
According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, the suspect told authorities, “He was upset about the recent police shootings,” and, “Said he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.” In regards to the question posed to our agency, I have never met an officer who went into Law Enforcement with the intention or desire to find themselves in a position to have to draw or discharge their firearm in the course of their duties. Officers go through rigorous training in the academy and throughout their career to address the escalation and deescalation of use of force scenarios that they may encounter while performing their duties and protecting our citizens and the community. Law enforcement officers chose this profession to improve the quality of life of the citizens we serve. Unfortunately, we live in a world where information is shared more quickly than ever before and in many cases that information is not factual. The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office believes in transparency and we do our best to alert our community regarding incidents as they occur. We strive on providing factual and accurate information. The information that is disseminated is not based on any one person’s political agenda such as we have seen in recent events which have been “polarized” by special interest groups.
Those seeking to further their anti-cop rhetoric are using social media to further their agenda, often times ignoring facts and intentionally spreading false information with the intent to stir up reactions. This is a new problem plaguing law enforcement across the nation and is a direct result of a few politicians and pundits rushing to judgment before the facts are found out. As you can imagine, the incident in Dallas, Texas has had an effect on the entire nation, and especially the law enforcement community. Yuma County offers counseling, which is available at any time, to all our officers and employees free of charge through our Employee Assistance Program. In addition, Critical Incident Stress Management teams are also called in for mandatory counseling for any individuals involved in critical incidents such as officer involved shootings. The Sheriff’s Office also works with local advocacy groups to help families affected by critical incidents. We encourage our community to seek help through these resources in their time of need.
In closing, the Officers and staff of the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office will continue live by our mission….“to maintain the public safety in Yuma County by enforcing all applicable laws; educating youth about responsible conduct; and providing fair and impartial service to all residents of Yuma County. The mission is reflected by the Sheriff’s Office motto of Dedicated to Service.”