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RVA leaders, law enforcement grieve officers killed in Baton Rouge

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-18 20:06:52-04

RICHMOND, Va - A number of local leaders and law enforcement agencies are expressing their condolences to the Baton Rouge Police Department and Sheriff's Office after three of their officers were killed in a gun battle with a former Marine.

The ambush on police comes as tensions in Baton Rouge were high following the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed during an encounter with police there two weeks ago.

The Henrico, Richmond, and Virginia State Police all issued their condolences to the victims and their families via social media.

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones addressed the violence in a message posted to the City of Richmond's Twitter account.  Jones spoke in front of the Richmond Police Memorial at Byrd Park.

Several local law enforcement agencies wrote on social media community members had brought them cards or baked goods as a show of support.  Professor Robyn McDougle with the Wilder School at VCU said even small tokens of gratitude to law enforcement are important right now because many officers are still processing recent events while on the job.

"It might seem like not that big of a deal or even cheesy, it can make truly the difference," she said. "We want them to feel they are apart of the community in the healing, and making sure they are processing through these experiences and events as a part of their profession."

McDougle studies who stress can impact a police officer while on duty.  She added that during an unprecedented time of tension surrounding officers on the beat, stress causes a natural physical response.

"Physiologically, our blood pressure increases, our eyes dilate, we sweat; it's just what our body does," McDougle said.

The 1,000 man march in downtown Richmond Saturday saw "Black Lives Matter" protesters and local police officers walking side by side. McDougle pointed to that moment as a healthy example of how two hurting communities can have productive dialogue together.

"Anything that comes from this that moves us forward, it's going to be those joint, respectful conversations on both parties," McDougle said.