Our view: New Hope shooting underscores peril law enforcement officers face

March 19, 2014 9:59:37 AM



The gunfire that interrupted the quiet of a modest New Hope neighborhood on Tuesday should serve as a reminder to us all on two points: 


First, this kind of incident can happen anywhere. 


Second, the potential sacrifices that our law enforcement officer face can happen anytime. 


In the hours that followed Tuesday's shooting on Drake Circle in New Hope, neighbors stood in small groups talking about the surreal event that played out before their eyes.  


What began as a routine call escalated to a Special Response Team action and ultimately ended with two Lowndes County sheriff's deputies suffering serious gunshot wounds. Both Lt. Larry Swearingen and Lt. Clint Sims underwent surgery Tuesday afternoon at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle and are listed in stable condition. A third deputy, Scott Glasgow, who suffered a cut on his hand, was treated and released Tuesday. 


For those who lived in the quiet Drake Hills subdivision, Tuesday's events seemed hard to fathom. Residents described their neighborhood as quiet and safe.  


Until Tuesday, that is. 


The hard truth is that no one can accurately predict what may be going on behind closed doors in any neighborhood and no one can predict when that turmoil may take a tragic turn.  


Drake Hills did not suddenly turn into a combat zone or a haven for dangerous criminals. But in the span of a few terrifying minutes Tuesday, that's what it was. No community is immune. 


Tuesday's events should also remind us that while law enforcement can often be mundane, routine and easy for the public to take for granted, the men and women who are sworn to protect and serve can find themselves in mortal peril at any moment. And, as Tuesday's events remind us, even the greatest precautions to ensure the safety of our officers does not offer any guarantees. The deputies were wearing protective gear and the SRT team followed procedures learned through rigorous training. Even so, two deputies suffered serious gunshot wounds.  


That neither deputy was mortally wounded is, in itself, a blessing not to be forgotten. 


Tuesday should serve to remind us that what happened can happen anywhere and that our law enforcement officers are only a moment away from putting their lives on the line.