Russell Co. Sheriff: officers are trained to stop the threat

Published: Jul. 11, 2016 at 11:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2016 at 11:54 PM EDT
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RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve the community.

However, recent officer involved shootings in St. Paul, MN and Baton Rouge, LA have prompted criticism and backlash against the men in blue across the nation.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor, a nearly 30- year veteran who was shot in the line of duty in 2003, said it makes him sick to his stomach to see what's happening across the country and to know that whatever happened in another city, whether the officer was wrong or whether he was justified.

"When you start going to a city that had nothing to do with that, half way across the country, just because they wear a badge is ridiculous," said Sheriff Taylor. "The mere thought of that is just mind-blowing and we have to figure out a happy medium. We have to have the support of the community to do our job and the community has to have law enforcement."

Five officers from the Dallas Police Department and DART - the Dallas Area Rapid Transit - were shot and killed Thursday night when a lone gunman opened fire, also wounding seven officers and two civilians during a protest.

Police said Micah Johnson's motivation was prompted by the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in St. Paul by police.

Sheriff Taylor also believes the growing racial tension in America spurred by the notion that more African American men are killed by officers than white men is unwarranted.

"Statistics show 325 white men have been shot this year by police compared to 142 black men, 108 Latinos and 38 women, eight of which were black, said Sheriff Taylor.

He pulled the stats from this website.

"What I see is that it's not racial," Sheriff Taylor said. "Both whites and blacks are not following orders when they have a confrontation with a law enforcement officer."

When answering 911 calls, things usually escalate between the officer and the public when people refuse to comply with the officer's commands, according to Sheriff Taylor.

"We are trained, from the very first day, if somebody is fighting with us, they're trying to get our weapons and we are trained to stop the threat," Sheriff Taylor said.

Sheriff Taylor said he has recently been asked why officers don't shoot a person in the leg or arm when they feel threaten instead of firing at a person's chest or head.

"They are trained to shoot center mass of the torso, that's the largest part of our body and that's what they are trained to shoot at," Sheriff Taylor explained. "In fact, we know of case after case where people have lost an arm or a leg and continue to cause harm to other people or themselves."

Sheriff Taylor went on to say he is not saying there are not bad cops patrolling the streets.

He said there are bad lawyers, bad doctors and bad preachers, but overall he believes the majority of those who wear the badge do a good job protecting and serving their communities. 

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