Threat of retaliation doesn’t bother TPD, others second-guessing law enforcement career
By Ashley Williams
In the wake of recent incidents of retaliation against law enforcement officers, there is a growing sentiment that some in the profession might be reconsidering their career choice.
While that holds true in some parts of the country, officers in the Tallahassee police force are being assured that they don’t have to fear facing the kinds of threats that have taken the lives of five officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, La., in recent weeks.
“We have provided supplemental staffing,” saidDavid Northway, spokesman for Tallahassee Police Department(TPD). “We have more officers on the street trying to ensure we have at least two officers going to each call for service.”
There is a sense of appreciation from the public, too, Northway said.
“I was stopped by three different people thanking me for my services,” he said.
The conversation about public perception of law enforcement has been two-pronged. While there is a big concern about police-involved shootings, there also is a sentiment that officers might be worried about their safety, too.
Northway, however, said he doesn’t know of any TPD officers looking to leave their jobs.
“Police officers tell me every day that they still love what they do,” he said.
But for protesters in Tallahassee and around the country, the biggest concerns seem to be over police hiring and how they are trained. However, TPD’s hiring process is very stringent, Northway said.
“We have many people who apply to be a police officer,” he said. “(But) once they begin the training, because it’s quite a jump, many people make a decision that this career is not for them.”
While TPD officers can only speak through Northway, commenting about their concern isn’t an issue for officers who work in counties in nearby Georgia. Take for instance Traci Harris, a 46-year-old police officer for Clayton County.
She is a 17-year-veteran who started in law enforcement as a corrections officer. She spent the last 10 as a police officer.
Lately because of the retaliation against law enforcement officers, following the police-involved shooting deaths, she is having second thoughts about her career choice.
“With all that is going on with the police brutality, it does make it harder to police,” she said. “We are under microscope and second guessed on everything we do,” she added.
“I joined this career because I like to make citizens feel safe, but with the retaliation towards officers, I have to worry about my safety more than others.”
Tracey McCoy, 44, is a former deputy sheriff in Thomas County. He gave up his law enforcement job to work in banking, but even so he wasn’t sure his work in public safety was done.
His military background — having served in the Army National Guard, and the Air Force — McCoy didn’t think that after over 10 years of working in law enforcement he would try banking.
Although he’s been in his new job for three months, he’s had law enforcement at the forefront of his mind and at one point considered trying to join the force in Tallahassee.
Lately, he’s been having a change of heart.
“I don’t plan to anymore,” he said, “especially because of everything going on in today’s society. I don’t think now is a good time to be in law enforcement.”
McCoy didn’t say specifically why he left law enforcement in the first place, but he suggested that more screening is needed before officers are hired.
“I have nothing bad to say about the profession itself, I loved my job,” said McCoy. “I just feel bad that the hiring process isn’t what it used to be.”