I am angry, and you should be, too.
In the past few weeks, seven law enforcement officers in North Carolina have been shot. Two were killed, including Deputy Ned Byrd.
Early Friday, Byrd was on patrol with his dog when he apparently stopped on a call that apparently didn’t strike him as being unusually dangerous. Officials said there had been calls about a suspicious vehicle in the area, and it’s possible Byrd saw the vehicle and stopped to investigate.
Two hours later, his fellow officers found his body. Byrd had been shot multiple times. He apparently had not drawn his weapon. His dog was still in the patrol vehicle. The Wake County sheriff said Byrd was apparently ambushed on the side of that dark country road, at a time of night when nothing good happens.
I have close friends who worked with that department. Odds are I know someone who worked with Ned Byrd. That’s the nature of covering law enforcement in a number of counties for a couple decades.
In a few respects, the situation is sadly similar to the killing of Trooper Kevin Conner. Kevin made a “routine” traffic stop south of Whiteville and was shot to death in 2018. For whatever reason, I couldn’t sleep that night, even before the killing. I began covering that murder it within an hour of his death. I didn’t sleep the next night, either; aside from a nap, it was after midnight, two days later, before I finally got to bed. The officers searching for his killer, comforting his family and escorting his body had even less rest before the suspects were jailed.
Personally, I wish every person in every jurisdiction where an officer dies in the line of duty would be struck with the same insomnia I had that night, and that they wouldn’t rest until the killer was cuffed or otherwise brought to justice.
I have personally known three LEOs killed in the line of duty, including Kevin. I covered two of those cases from the scene to the courtroom. The third is still pending in the courts. I expect to be there.
But whether I knew Ned Byrd or not does not matter. I don’t know the Sampson deputy who is recovering from her attack. I didn’t know the deputy killed in Wayne County, or his two comrades who were injured.
What I do know is this: every time a sheepdog falls, the flock is less safe.
It is ridiculous and frightening that our society has sunk to this new low.
It’s criminal that so many politicians are still on the “defund the police” kick, even as crimes rise in their communities. It’s rumored that the WCSO boss is refusing outside help in the search for the killer. There’s another rumor, also with good background, that he is concerned about the politics involved if and when they actually capture the killer.
Politics? Politics because the suspect may be of a particular racial or ethnic group?
The concern needs to be stopping a killer, not enabling reelection. If someone will ambush and kill a cop, do you really think they will hesitate to ambush and kill a civilian?
Ironically, those who voice support for law enforcement are sometimes declared dangerous to society, along with people who understand history and love America, and have the temerity to show that love and understanding. Read the latest full briefings identifying domestic threats, if you don’t believe me.
I wonder how many politicians will still be calling cops names when their homes are broken into, when their families are threatened by a bad guy, when their special little section of the ivory tower isn’t so high falutin’ any more, because there aren’t enough officers to protect their homes and families.
There was a time in this nation’s history, back during the Great Crime Wave of 1933-35, when citizens stood up. Many idolized bank robbers (and the Hollywood versions of gangsters) but when a law enforcement officer was hurt or killed, fame became infamy, and the populace became angry. American Legionnaires, civic clubs, and even Sunday school classes turned out to search. Farmers and road crews conducted decidedly unconstitutional roadblocks.
But the bad guys were stopped.
Some communities became so well known for a lack of tolerance for crime that bad guys avoided them as being “too hot.” When jewelers and shoe salesman responded to bank alarms, pistols and shotguns in hand, it made the criminal gangs think twice.
Now we have 911, the ability to send anonymous tips via text or websites, cameras on our homes, cars and telephones – yet many people are reluctant to say a word to law enforcement. Some will share video of a crime on social media before calling 911.
There are a lot of sociopolitical reasons for condoning or at least tolerating crime in one’s neighborhood, none of which I believe. Still, I figure we get the government we deserve, and we should get the law enforcement we deserve, too.
Thankfully, cops, deputies and troopers don’t see it that way. They take an oath to serve and protect every neighborhood and family, not just those who do their part as responsible citizens. They promise to be a shield for those who cover their backs as well as those who spit in their faces. That’s why I couldn’t be a law enforcement officer.
The suspect or suspects who killed Ned Byrd can’t be blamed for all of society’s ills, just the crimes committed by their hands. But I would argue that there is more of a willingness to take a chance on killing an officer nowadays, courtesy of society’s disdain for the law and law enforcement, and the politicians shoveling chum into society’s anti-cop feeding frenzy.
I am ashamed of the thoughts I have had about Ned Byrd’s killer. I have had to ask forgiveness, since to wish death is the same as committing the act. Whether it would be murder or a justifiable killing is purely academic, as I’m highly unlikely to ever be faced with that choice.
But I admit: I will not be unhappy if the suspect in this case is carried away, not in handcuffs and shackles, but in a zipup bag.
The line may be cliche, but if you ride like an outlaw, you can die like an outlaw.
It’s too bad that so many people have decided that a good way to get reelected is chaining the sheepdogs, while the wolves run free.