Law enforcement on high alert after recent attacks; officers pairing up in many jurisdictions

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 18, 2016

Law enforcement agencies throughout the Valley are asking officers and deputies to be on high alert and to "watch each other's backs" while out patrolling the streets.

Hearts have been heavy, and badges shrouded with the black band all over the area, after the recent ambush attacks targeting police officers in Texas and Louisiana.

"It just kind of fuels us even more to go out there every day and do the job that we're doing. There are so many good citizens and good people out there in the community that need our help. We're never going to let fear be a deterrent for us to go out and do our jobs," said Sgt. Scott Waite, with the Glendale Police Department.

Every police agency has been reminding officers to be on the lookout for danger and be extra vigilant while out patrolling.

In Phoenix, a police spokesman said while they had received no specific, credible threats, officers "will continue to give front line supervisors discretion to pair up officers in cars as they see fit based upon specific circumstances they experience in their areas of responsibility."

The recent tragedies have sparked a discussion about the importance of protecting the backs of those who have taken the oath to serve and protect the community.   

"Anybody that puts on this uniform knows the inherent risk of what they're doing. You're stepping into people's lives on their best day," said Waite.

Glendale police have paired up officers in high crime or "high focus" areas for years. Now like Phoenix, first line supervisors are being asked to use discretion in areas they feel two officers per squad car is necessary.  

"One for safety, and two while one is focused on driving the other can be looking at certain areas, can be watching alleyways," said Waite.

Many agencies have also renewed the push to outfit every officer in the department with a body camera.

Glendale police officials said they hope to have every officer outfitted with one by the end of the year.

Many officers who were initially resistant to wearing one, are now understanding the importance of the device.

"One for our safety, and two to be more transparent so the public understand what we're doing," said Waite.

Almost every officer on the front lines of the patrol division has encountered someone who disliked the police, and was vocal about it. Waite said they were reminding officers to keep their cool, even in tense situations.

"The biggest thing is just to listen to them, people want to vent. They want to get frustrations out. There's no sense in trying to argue with them. Just hear what they have to say," said Waite.

One positive thing police departments are seeing is an outpouring of support from the community. Unfortunately the tragedy has highlighted the dangers of the job. Waite said people had been dropping by police substations, armed with cards and cookies.

"Just even today I was eating lunch and two young kids wrote a note on a napkin for me, and just wanted to give me a high five and say thank you,' said Waite.