NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Danger is a part of life for law enforcement officers, and nationally, deaths in the line of duty were up 37% from last year.
For almost two decades, Lt. Pete Johnson has kept watch over Newberry County. He said that's a long enough time to see how much things have changed. "There's no more respect being taught in the home," said Lt. Johnson, "I think that has a lot to do with it."
Two deputies were killed in car accidents in South Carolina. A third died from a heart attack after struggling with a suspect. "I was shocked when I saw that," expressed Lt. Johnson.
Sheriff Lee Foster said the statistic should serve as a reminder to the public of what his deputies and others put on the line every day. "It's getting to be a more dangerous place to work," stated Sheriff Foster.
He said It's a reality deputies need to keep in mind but not dwell on. "I think it's always ingrained in the back of one's mind, but I do not think you can think about that or dwell on that or you would not do your job very well," claimed Sheriff Foster.
Sheriff Foster said doing that would make his deputies overly defensive.
Meanwhile, Johnson seems to have found the balance. His family of four are never far from his mind. "I'm always trying to be as safe as I can to make sure that at the end of every shift I get to go home to the same four wonderful faces that I left to come to work that morning," said Johnson.