Killing of Harris Co. deputy sparks strong reactions in Austin

Hours after the execution-style killing of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, people in support and critical of law enforcement community sounded off about the shooting.

AUSTIN -- Hours after the execution-style killing of Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, people both in support and critical of the law enforcement community sounded off about the shooting.

Williamson County Precinct 1 Constable Robert Chody started the Police Lives Matter Facebook page.

"I personally believe the law enforcement community feels alienated from the community but I think they're seeing now, even I'm surprised that a large portion of the silent majority does support the law enforcement community," Chody said.

Chody is organizing a march to show support in a time when anti-police sentiment is on the rise. He is applying for a permit with the City of Austin, with the march set for 10 a.m. Sept. 19th. It will start at the Austin Police Department Headquarters on 8th Street and marchers are expected to head to the State Capitol.

"Within 24 hours [Sunday] night, it was 1,600 people confirmed that they were going to attend," Chody said.

Goforth's death prompted another Facebook post. The Peaceful Streets Project Founder, Antonio Buehler, said he wrote it to mirror what police do after officers are involved in killings.

"Of course it was insensitive. It was insensitive the exact same way that it's insensitive every single time that police kill someone and slander them," Buehler said.

Buehler's criticism of police, especially Austin police, is well documented. Most are directed at Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.

"Some of the vile comments that you read after police officers are brutally murdered, really causes me, as a person of faith, as a person that has dedicated my adult life to public service, it cause you to pause and wonder what's going on," Acevedo said.  

Chief Acevedo sent the following email to his officers after the Goforth's killing:

"All,

I am writing to remind all of our members of the importance of situational awareness and officer/employee safety.  By now most of you know of the unprovoked shooting death of Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth while he was pumping gasoline into his patrol unit.  This tragedy is the latest in a string of unprovoked attacks and ambushes on American Peace Officers.  The following applies to the on-duty, secondary employment, and off-duty environments.

The Department continues to work closely with our Federal, State, County and local partners to identify specific threats to our organization and region.  While we have not identified any threats locally, we need to be vigilant while in the public. Now, more than ever, we all must exercise appropriate officer/employee safety measures.  Keep in mind that attacks have occurred not only on solo-officer units, but on two and multiple officer units/scenes.  Think back to the shooting deaths of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officers Beck and Soldo while eating lunch at Cicci's Pizza on the Vegas Strip, and NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu while sitting in their police unit.

In addition to vigilance while in public, we need to be on the look-out for suspicious activity in and around our facilities.  During the past year our Headquarters and Dallas PD Headquarters came under attack by heavily armed suspects.  Consequently, it is imperative we are aware of suspicious activity around our facilities.

In light of the latest unprovoked attack, some folks have asked us to consider doubling up on patrol. While there are benefits to two-officer units, past studies have shown that two officer units do not enhance officer safety.  In fact, the rate of injury and death is higher in the two-officer configuration, therefore, we will not be changing our current deployment practices.  Regardless of our configuration, it is critical we closely follow contact and cover protocols.  Moreover, when responding to hot-shots, never hesitate to stage prior to responding to the actual scene of the call when the nature of the call warrants doing so. 

I want to remind all employees that the vast majority of the people in our community and Nation support us in all we do.  We can further strengthen the bond we enjoy with the people of Austin by treating everyone we contact with respect and empathy.  Never forget that you are working in an organization considered to be the best of the best across our Nation.  While our noble profession is facing some challenges across the country, we should seize this moment and time and utilize every contact we have with members of the public as an opportunity to enhance the trust and support of the individuals we cross paths with.  Regardless of your specific duties within the Department, I hope you too will see your public contacts as I do, an opportunity!

As I close, I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to service and for your delivery of that service with an ICARE spirit. 

With Great Admiration,

Art Acevedo

Chief of Police."

The Austin Police Association, however, wants more done. President Kenneth Casaday says the idea of doubling up has been discussed.

"I'm very worried about officer safety. You just never know where your enemies are coming from," Casaday said. 

Acevedo said that could result in double the fatalities during ambush killings. He said at the end of the day, all officers know that as soon as they put on the uniform, they automatically become easy targets.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment