Local chiefs of police reminding officers to watch their backs

FILE - Austin police department vehicle (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin police department vehicle (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The death of a Houston-area deputy is sparking some strong emotion from local police departments. Two chiefs of police are telling their officers to always be on alert.

“Last Saturday I was on patrol with them and we were looking for a drive-by shooter and we were able to get them.”

Chief Art Acevedo may be the leader of the Austin Police Department, but that doesn’t stop him from patrolling the streets from time to time. He’s reminding his officers to watch their backs, after the shooting death of a Harris County deputy.

“Look around you, when you’re in a public space, having lunch, put yourself where you can see people coming. When I stop on a street, I try to put my back to the wall so I don’t have to worry what’s behind me, I can look left and right,” said Chief Acevedo.

Even if police do everything right, Acevedo says unfortunately, officers are still a target.

“You can’t control the actions of some, especially when it’s pure evil. Police officers are murdered on a regular basis in this country just as a result of the uniform they wear,” said Chief Acevedo.

Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson says he’s wearing his uniform more often these days. On his Facebook page he opens up, saying he’s honored to be a police officer and wants everyone to know he won’t run and hide. KXAN News asked him about those strong words, over the phone today.

“If we wear our uniform and show everyone that we’re not going to back down, and we’re not going to run, we’ll show force,” said Chief Nelson.

This senseless crime is motivating Chief Nelson.

“It’s truly sickening and it just makes me want to do my job even more for that deputy and all the other officers that have been killed in the line of duty,” said Chief Nelson.

Officers say they won’t let this deputy’s ultimate sacrifice be in vain.

“When you hear about such a senseless, violent, unprovoked attack and homicide, it just breaks your heart,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Some say police need to do a better job building bridges to the community, others believe citizens could make law enforcement officers feel more appreciated.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is also commenting on his Facebook page about the tragedy, supporting police officers.

Volunteer group Texas Gun Sense sent KXAN News the following statement on the shooting:

“We’re shocked by the senseless killing of the Houston deputy, and we mourn for his family, especially the children.  While we don’t have all of the details of the incident, there are certain steps that can be done in Texas to address matters like these – local efforts to improve police/community relations, body cameras worn by police, and as always, we support comprehensive background checks and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with high-risk mental health issues.”

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