Nation's Police Departments go On High Alert After Dallas Shootings
"I’m angry. The attack in Dallas is an attack on all law enforcement," said Detroit Metropolitan Police Chief James Craig in a news conference Friday morning after a night of violence that rocked the nation.
"Every police department in America was attacked last night," Craig said. "Some people want to dance around it, but let’s call this what it is: terrorism. Urban terrorism. Whether it’s ISIS or some other cowards, it doesn’t matter. And it’s been known for some time that law enforcement has been a target. It’s something we’ve been living with, and now even more so.”
He said his department is "in a higher state of alertness" in the wake of the nation's deadliest day for law enforcement since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We told our officers: Be diligent and rely on your training. This is not an overreaction."
In Boston, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Glendale, California and Washington, D.C. among other urban areas, police departments announced that officers would now work in pairs for their safety until further notice. In New York, a security officer would greet all entering the city's police precincts, a police memo said. Officers there would also patrol in twos.
"All members of the service are reminded to think tactically and remain vigilant at all times while in uniform and should remain alert especially when members of the public approach them," the memo said. "Members are to always be aware of any suspicious behavior and to be alert of their surroundings, whether on or off duty."
Meanwhile, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury, on Friday pointedly called on the Department of Justice to investigate the Dallas shootings as hate crimes.
Canterbury expressed frustration at the Obama administration. "The FOP has spent two years calling on this Congress and this administration to expand federal law to protect law enforcement officers," he said in a statement. "How many more assassinations, how many more ambushes, how many more dead officers must we endure before action is taken?
He added: "The U.S. Department of Justice is always quick to insert itself into local investigations, sometimes before the preliminary reports are even in. Today, we expect action just as swift — we want a federal investigation into those who were motivated by their hatred of police to commit mass murder in Dallas last night."
Police fears were registered all over the nation. In St. Paul, Minnesota, headquarters were on lockdown Friday morning amid protests over the police shooting of a school cafeteria supervisor in his vehicle Wednesday after a traffic stop. The building went on lockdown around 9 p.m. Thursday before the shooting rampage in Dallas and was precautionary and not a result of direct threats.
In Las Vegas, Metropolitan Police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Clark said in a televised briefing that his department was doubling up on its patrols, a rarity, "out of an abundance of caution." The department also suspended all civilian ride-alongs.
He described reactions there among officers as one of shock and disgust.
"These officers in Dallas, Texas, have nothing to do with what happened in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis. For someone to shoot 10 officers at one time … for me, it's unfathomable. It's not something we as a society should stand for."
Clark described the shootings as "cold-blooded murder," and added that his officers were mindful of what was going on around the nation and feeling the backlash, reading comments on social media. "We're seeing us essentially being bashed out of frustration. And I get the frustration. But to target a group of individuals just because they are in uniform I think is deplorable."
Security was also buffeted at police facilities in Washington, D.C. where Chief Cathy Lanier said patrols there were doubled at midnight and would continue for some time.
"It's hard not to be shaken up as a police officer when you watch the coverage of what happened last night," Lanier said Friday morning. "I also think our officers realize this is the act of violent offenders, not the acts of members of our community, so we have to keep that in mind and not be emotional about it."