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For Triangle police, mourning, threats, calls for peace

Posted July 8

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— Following the Thursday night shootings in Dallas that killed five police officers and injured seven people, law enforcement agencies across central North Carolina are calling for peace and prayers while investigating threats that had, through Friday afternoon, proved unfounded.

Call for community in Raleigh -

Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown sent an email to officers Friday morning, urging them to remain focused on their jobs, despite the tragedies.

"As we grieve, I know we will steadfastly continue to be faithful to our obligation to serve and our obligation to protect, and I know you will all continue to work to strengthen the bond we share with this community, which I know is standing with you. As always, thank you for your dedicated service to everyone in the City of Raleigh. Stay safe," the email said in part.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane also had a message for law enforcement officers and the community.

"In this trying time, I ask each of us to ask ourselves: How can I help? How can we become a more caring, compassionate city that respects everyone? It’s important that everyone in our community feel safe – both those that live here and those that serve here. Please join with me as we continue to build a Raleigh we can all be proud of," she said.

McFarlane said while no community is immune to violence, she believes the fabric of the Raleigh community - the community and faith-based groups - will play a large role in the response.

"Keeping those lines of communication open, meeting with neighborhood leaders, all the difference resources and the groups around the city are very important," she said.

Prayers in Durham -

In a community familiar with racial tension, Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said one of her top priorities since being sworn into office has been to improve police community relations.

The Durham Police Department issued the following statement on Friday: "The Durham Police Department extends thoughts and prayers for the officers in Dallas, their families and all affected by the recent violence across our nation. These are very difficult times in law enforcement. Locally, we will continue to work with our community leaders, city leadership and residents to provide fair and equitable service to everyone."

Former Interim Police Chief Larry Smith said following Thursday's attacks, he heard the call for prayer.

"I saw the mayor of Dallas and watched the police chief of Dallas and saw the hurt in their eyes," Smith said.

Smith said it inspired him to turn to Facebook and invite anyone interested to meet him at his church.

"We've got to do something about the division in our nation because when it boils over this is what happens, and I don't want to see that anymore," he said.

The group prayed for the families of the fallen Dallas police officers, and for the families of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, who were killed at the hands of police this week. Both incidents were captured on video.

"When I see videos like that, and all you see in that video, I am concerned about it, for my profession," Smith said.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell said he takes the recent events involving police officers very seriously.

"When incidents happened in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and now Dallas, it always brings a different level of concern. I don't care where you are, what you're doing, but I think it would be ill advised not to take those things seriously, and I'm sure the police are doing that," he said.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews also expressed his thanks in an open letter to his deputies.

"Today we all have heavy hearts and our badges weigh a thousand pounds. Our feelings are numb from events that have taken place. We all have searched for answers and wept for our fellow officers and citizens. We watched the bravery of many officers run towards danger to protect citizens without hesitation. I ask that you honorably continue your level of professionalism and service to our citizens of Durham. Today we honor all citizens living in peace, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving their community...Your service, your professionalism, your dedication, and your compassion for Durham and all its citizens is appreciated, but most of all, it is needed."

Fayetteville police report dozens of threats -

In a news release, a police department spokesperson said the department had received more than 60 reports of possible threats against law enforcement in a 6-hour period on Friday.

"The Fayetteville Police Department is asking family members to talk with your loved ones about what has occurred in our nation and if they have concerns, we are open to dialogue and addressing how we can better serve our community," the release said.

A spokesperson said community members showed overwhelming support for officers by laying flowers on the Fallen Officers Memorial, posting signs, bringing food for officers, and calling and texting officers to express concern and care.

"We are #OneAgencyOneCommunityOneFamily, We are ONE," the statement said.

Among the chaos, five Fayetteville police officers were promoted Friday afternoon as their loved ones watched.

"There are people in some areas of the community that don't like us, but the vast majority of our community, overwhelming vast majority, support us, love us, appreciate us, and need us," said Maneule DeJesus, who was promoted to Lieutenant.

Social response is outpouring of support -

On social media on Friday, police departments from Garner, Apex, Goldboro and Fuquay-Varina shared photos and messages of support they had received from their local communities. People dropped off cupcakes, sandwiches, plants, and even posted signs thanking the officers for their work.

Gov. Pat McCrory also issued a statement Friday, saying he and his wife are heartbroken by last night's tragedy.

"Our prayers go out to our dedicated law enforcement officers across our nation and our state who risk their lives every day to protect and serve. During times like this, we must all come together and support one another in our communities."

Thursday's shooting in Dallas was the deadliest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001.

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