Law enforcement badges across the state were wrapped Wednesday with black bands. It’s to mourn the loss of Dallas police officer Rogelio Santander.
He was shot Tuesday at a Home Depot, along with two other officers, who were trying to take a man into custody. "It's not a good environment in law enforcement right now,” said Austin Police Association president Ken Casaday.
The current climate, according to Casaday, makes it difficult to recruit and keep officers on any police force. "And I have Officers contact me every week wondering if this career is still for them."
The Austin Police Academy spends a lot of time teaching community relations and tactics. Stronger protective vests were also purchased after the mass shooting of police in Dallas two years ago.
But Casaday believes more is needed. "The 'To Do List,' is to continue to train the way we do, to provide more scenario based training, and then it will be dealing with Counsel and city Manager about putting in Bullet proof glass into police cars and bullet proof doors,” said Casaday.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund, there have been 43 deaths this year, not counting Dallas. That’s about the same as last year.
The difference is how 23 cases involved guns, which is a 64% increase.
At Texas State University, efforts got underway Wednesday to try to create a new training class to help law enforcement officers recognize ambush situations.
It would be managed through the university's ALERRT Program.
The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center in San Marcos is known for dealing with active shooters. The million dollar grant, the center has applied for, is to address ambush attacks, according to Executive Director Pete Blair.
"Most days you go to work, it’s a normal day at work and no one tried to kill you."
Earlier this month, two deputies in Florida were shot sitting in front of a window at a restaurant.
In New York and Philadelphia, police officers were shot in their patrol cars.
A recent report by the DOJ noted that 20% of ambush attacks took place while an officer was sitting in a patrol car. More than half happened while their guards were down and not on an active call.
"There is no perfect solution to any of that, other than saying we don’t want our officers to eat out in public,” said Blair. Teaching situational awareness, according to Blair, doesn't have to mean an end to community policing.
"We don’t want officers who are detached from the community, we don't want officers who are going to war in the community, we want officers who are a part of the community, but we also need to recognize, and officers recognize, there are, a small segment of the community, out there who will try to injury and kill police officers."