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Loss Unites Law Enforcement Community

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Slain officers are mourned by all law enforcement
SMITHFIELD — Understandably, law enforcement officersfrom across the state are taking the death of Raleigh Det. Paul A. Halepretty hard. Hale was fatally shot Friday in the line of duty.

In Johnston County, it has hit particularly close to home. Deputies saythat when reports reached them of Hale's death while working, their ownmemories of losing Johnston County Deputy Paul West nearly two years ago came flooding back.

This weekend many dispatchers wore their support on their badges.

Phyllis Edwards and Gwen Rice know what it's like to lose an officerin the line of duty, and they say it is always something that haunts thoseinvolved.

Deputy Paul West was also fatally shot; he was gunned down in ruralJohnston County while attempting to serve a warrant. His assailant wassubsequently arrested in New York.

Edwards was at the control board and was first to hear the ominoussignal 25..."Officer Needs Help."

Gwen Rice recalled the experience but says there are no words toexpress the trauma and shock everyone feels.

Edwards said it's the instincts that kick in, with training guidingofficers to do what is necessary.

"He's the first priority, where he is, what type of situation he's inand get him help, to look after him," Rice said.

The greater law enforcement community looks after -- and worries about-- each other as well.

"(Here in Johnston County), we're one department, but all departmentsare linked together," Edwards says. "We're all here for the same reason,to serve and protect.

Rice believes it's that common goal that creates a bond betweendepartments. And why a loss of an officer in Raleigh can be felt all theway to Johnston County -- and across the state.

"With the situation in Raleigh, we've all lived it, we can relate toit," Edwards says. "We know what they're going through. It brings backa lot of memories. A lot of memories.

Edwards carries her memories of Deputy West on her wrist in the formof a slim metal band bearing his name. But the memories of his death arealso with her every day.

"I don't sleep, even now I don't sleep," she says.

The feeling is deep enough that even the passage of two years' time can't wipe it away. "There's healing," Rice says, "but there's still alot of pain. There always will be."

Johnston County sheriffs say Paul West's name was added to the NationalLaw Enforcement Memorial and for the past two years, they've gone to lookat it.

They ruefully add that the next they go up there they'll be looking forOfficer Paul Hale's name as well.

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