The Ada County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of flowers that showed up at the door. Someone left an encouraging sticky note on an Eagle police vehicle.
Doughnuts and other food offerings found their way to the offices of Nampa and Mountain Home police.
Knowing that Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies would be stunned by the events that unfolded overnight in Dallas, Idahoans found ways to reach out Friday.
Ada County Sheriff Stephen Bartlett thanked whoever sent his staff flowers and expressed his own grief in a written statement on the department’s Facebook page.
“The way to fight back against such horror is to continue to work, every day, towards strengthening our bonds with the community we serve,” Bartlett said. “That’s what we did yesterday, will do today, and will continue to do every other day to come. ... If such a tragedy teaches us anything, it’s that we can’t lose sight of that trust or take it for granted.”
A sniper opened fire Thursday night during a protest in downtown Dallas. The peaceful gathering was meant to focus attention on the police shooting deaths earlier this week of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castle in Falcon Heights, Minn.
Five police officers were killed and another seven were injured. Two civilians were also wounded.
‘YOUR HEART BREAKS’
Boise Police Chief Bill Bones, who spent part of Friday bicycling on the Greenbelt talking to citizens in a planned event, said he was shocked when he heard about Thursday night’s rampage.
“Your heart breaks for that department and those families and those officers. I can’t fathom the impact that would have on a police department and a community with that kind of loss,” he said Friday morning.
Members of Valley law enforcement shared feelings of sadness, frustration and anger. Nampa Capt. Brad Daniels lamented that hostility against police in some parts of the country has risen to such a level.
“The caliber of person who chooses to be a public servant, they’re out there today,” Daniels said Friday. “They’re probably nervous. Some of them are probably scared. They’re certainly on a heightened level of vigilance, but they’re out there because they have a job to do. I wouldn’t expect any less here locally.”
Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey said he hopes not to see a similar breakdown in relations here, where he and other law enforcement heads feel they generally have a better rapport with residents.
“Really it comes with the trust of your community and working together and not against each other,” Lavey said.
The dynamics of our community are much different than many of our fellow large cities across the country.
Boise Police Chief Bill Bones
Similar to what was seen here, Bones predicted an outpouring of support Friday for Dallas police. A midday Friday prayer vigil attracted huge crowds to the Texas city’s Thanks-Giving Square.
“I’m absolutely confident that every officer that is working in the Dallas area this morning will see civilian after civilian come up and say, ‘Thank you and I’m sorry for your loss,’ ” Bones said. “That helps assuage that grief, but yet you can never remove the impact of the loss of five officers from a police department through such an act of hate.”
LOCAL PATROL PRACTICES
Bones said it appeared the Dallas Police Department did everything right in handling Thursday’s protest. They worked with the protest leaders to allow it to take place in a peaceful manner, he said, as that city had done hundreds of times.
The tactic that finally killed sniper Micah Johnson, who was holed up in a parking garage — a bomb on the end of a robot’s arm — appears to have been the first time U.S. police have used a robot for lethal purposes, The Associated Press reported.
“We don’t use any explosives as a weapon. We’ve never even considered that,” Bones said.
The chief of police in Seattle, Kathleen O’Toole, asked her officers Friday to work in pairs as much as possible as a safety measure in response to the Dallas shootings. The city’s police union asked for that action to be taken. Some Seattle squad cars had officers ride in pairs after the 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Departments reached in the Valley on Friday did not plan to make any similar changes.
“We’re not doing anything different. We’re just telling people we need to still have to be aware of our surroundings,” said Lavey, Meridian’s chief. “We still have to do our jobs and we have to do it while serving our community. It’s not a time to go our separate ways. We need to work together to make sure that we’re all safe.”
BSU group, lawmaker plan event Sunday
Boise State University students, community members and representatives of local organizations will gather at Boise’s Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday for a peaceful gathering to promote unity and compassion in the wake of this week’s shootings of two black men by police and 12 police officers by a sniper in Dallas.
“The events which have occurred over the past 72 hours have unsettled a nation. Lives were lost due to senseless, irrational acts of violence; families and communities shaken for years to come. Now more than ever, it is important that we create time to heighten our awareness,” organizers said in a Facebook post Friday.
State Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, and the Associated Students of Boise State University are the lead organizers for the event, dubbed “Peace Prevails ID: Standing in Solidarity.” The Anne Frank memorial is located at 770 S. 8th St.
Regional NAACP reacts to shooting
Jeanetta Williams is president of the Salt Lake City branch of the NAACP, which also covers Idaho. In a written statement, she condemned the Dallas shooting and extended her sympathies to its victims and their families.
“We believe that these shootings were in retaliation of the two shootings of African American men this week by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota. All Lives Matter and we do not condone these shootings or any attacks on law enforcement officers,” she said.