It's been 10 years.
In May 2009, the point was driven home brutally in Orangeburg County: Police work is very dangerous.
We went so far as to name the events of that month "May mayhem."
An Orangeburg County sheriff's deputy was shot to death in the line of duty. A day later, a Highway Patrol trooper was shot while making a traffic stop. Later, a man admitted in court that he would have shot another officer but the weapon jammed. And then, Orangeburg Department of Public Safety officers were fired upon while responding to a distress call in which an estranged father was trying to kidnap his son.
In May 2009 there was more -- another vivid reminder of the dangers. Alabama jail escapee Thomas Ivey was executed for the slaying of Orangeburg officer Tommy Harrison in 1993.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.
Few can argue that law enforcement is a top priority during this Police Week. It was in 1993, it was in 2009 and it is very much so in 2019.
We live in a dangerous world and difficult times.
In his final interview with the Panther, the student newspaper, as Claflin University's president, the retiring Dr. Henry N. Tisdale was asked about the violence from which law enforcement from the campus to the community is tasked with preventing.
His insight is food for thought here as we deal with today and move into the future.
“I am very concerned,” Tisdale said. “In America, we have an issue with guns and violence.”
Tisdale said there is an overabundance of guns and gun violence “seems to be increasing.”
He sees the need for a proactive approach not unlike he has fostered many times during 25 years at the Claflin helm. The university just does more in collaborating with other agencies, he said.
That means more than institutions of higher learning and their security forces cooperating with the sheriff and city police, he said.
The universities and colleges locally offer a wealth of knowledge and research expertise. “We have to use the intellectual resources on our campuses.”
Rather than being reactive, study other approaches to preventing violence. Look at what has worked in different communities. “Come up with a plan.”
It is an approach with which law enforcement will surely agree as it should always be understood that officers are on the front line in trying to prevent violence and dealing with it when it occurs. But law enforcement alone cannot prevent violence. Doing so will take a collaborative effort of the legal system, community resources and people willing to try to make a difference.