Local cops say police shootings sign of the times

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Lowcountry police officials say the combination of a bad economy and people who don't like cops may be the reason why 11 police officers were shot in a 24-hour period in five states last weekend.

Two officers were ambushed and killed in St. Petersburg, Fla. and in Detroit, Mich., a gunman shot and wounded four police officers inside their own precinct.

The violence brought back some bad memories for Charleston County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Woods. Woods lost two friends in the line of duty when he worked for the State Highway Patrol. First Sgt. Frankie Lingard was shot to death in 1997 and Cpl. Jeff Johnson was shot to death in 2002.

"It's devastating, it's devastating. You try to put a spin on it. You try to put a reason to it and you can't," Woods said.

Woods says last weekend's shootings are a sign of the times, desperate people in a bad economy who don't like cops.

"You take a little bit of lack of respect and desperation and put the two of them together and you mix it up and dump it out and you get a terrible situation," he said.

North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt was stunned by the news of the shootings.

"The four officers being shot inside the station house, I mean that's mind boggling, they're all tragedies," Zumalt said.

Zumalt is making sure his officers are aware what happened and he's telling them to be alert because they may also run into a bad guy who won't go quietly.

"You can run across one of them at any time at any place, a car stop, you just never know," Zumalt said.

Woods said the shootings should serve as a reminder for all cops to concentrate on what they're doing.

"Remain cautious, remain vigilant and continue to do the job that we're sworn to do."

So far this year, one South Carolina law enforcement officer died in the line of duty. The victim, a Sumter County sheriff's deputy was killed in a traffic accident. In 2010, three officers died on the job.

Nationwide, 61 officers died in the line of duty in 2010, compared to 49 in 2009.

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