Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer of Kerr County, Texas, says it is time for the silent majority who support the good work of police to stand up and counter the narratives being spread through media and by the Obama administration.
“We’ve had eight police officers killed in seven days in August, and the numbers keep rising,” Hierholzer told the Hill Country Community Journal (HCCJ). He added, “Despite what you might see on TV, it is a dangerous environment for law enforcement right now and we need the support of our communities and our governments.”
Sheriff Hierholzer was part of a statewide memorial for Officer Darren Goforth that was timed to coincide with his funeral service. Goforth was shot in the back 15 times while pumping gas. Police have said they have no known motive for the murder other than the fact that Goforth was wearing his police uniform.
Shannon Miles was arrested and accused of committing the crime. The murder weapon was found in his home, but his attorney maintains that he has not confessed or explained his motive. Miles has a history of mental problems, including a psychiatric commitment after he was accused of an assault in 2012.
Speaking of Goforth’s death, Sheriff Hierholzer told HCCJ, “I think its time that the silent majority everyone stand up and let the nation know that this is what law enforcement is really about.”
In Hierholzer’s view, public views of law enforcement officers took a turn after the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO. “Somehow people believed that the young man’s hands were up when the officer shot and then they started chanting ‘Hands up. Don’t shoot,’” he told HCCJ. The 24-hour news cycle, combined with experts offering an anti-police agenda, “was just fuel for those who were looking for it and now police officers across the nation have to watch their backs while getting gas.”
Hierholzer is also critical of the president and former Attorney General Eric Holder. He told HCCJ that both leaders, “sent the wrong message.” However, most of his ire is reserved for the media. “Any officer who makes a bad decision must suffer the consequences, just like all citizens do… but when you have isolated incidents making a 24-hour news cycle, it distorts reality and the perception of all of us,” he told HCCJ. Later in the conversation, he added, “When you are just out to get ratings or sell newspapers, by picking and choosing parts of criminal cases to promote, you are crippling the criminal justice system.”
As for what people can actually do to change the narrative, Hierholzer told HCCJ, “The first thing you can do is thank our officers when you see them. They sacrifice so much, for so little and a little appreciation would mean a lot to them.” He also hopes people will turn out in public to show support for law enforcement as a way to counter some of what he sees as negative campaigns against police.