Local News

Law Enforcement Officers Facing More Danger

Posted September 29, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Having a gun thrown in your face would be enough to scare anyone, but it's a threat police officers face every single day.

We saw it last week when two Cumberland County law enforcement officers were gunned down alongside Interstate-95. Just days later, a Fayetteville Police officer found himself in a similar situation -- fighting off an armed man after stopping a car for a routine traffic violation.

It seems to us like things are getting more dangerous, but many officers say they feel they have the best kind of safety training. They say the real problem is that the people they're pulling over are getting more dangerous. More and more people no longer think twice about pulling a weapon on an officer.

That's why officers say they have to think safety everytime they step in and out of their patrol cars.

A routine traffic stop, a gun and an officer. It was a deadly combination a week ago and potentially just as dangerous Saturday for Sergeant Mike Halstead. The Fayetteville officer says he stopped a car for running a red light.

This is the kind of situation criminal justice majors are learning to handle. Professors, like Dr. E.J. Williams at Fayetteville State University, are teaching them how to stay safe on routine traffic stops.

But what works in the classroom can turn out to be much more difficult on the road, according to student Windy Reece.

No one's really sure exactly what happened on I-95 when the two officers were murdered last week, but for Sergeant Halstead the fatal shooting and what happened to him this weekend are reminders of how focused officers need to be every single day.

Right now there are no plans to change the way any officers in the area are trained. Every North Carolina officer goes through a two week survival training course at the North Carolina Justice Academy.

Photographer:Mike Joyner