A plea for change and support. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said something must be done after the murder of seven law enforcement officers in the last 13 months.
Alabama's top cop said officers need your help. Leaders of the seven departments who lost officers stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday in Montgomery, a somber reminder of the sacrifice and risk thousands of men and women make in Alabama every day when they put on their uniform.
Included in the group, Huntsville Police Chief Marc McMurray, who hung his head as Marshall shared Officer Billy Clardy III's story, and that of six others killed while serving their communities.
"This is the most members of Alabama law enforcement ever murdered in the line of duty in less than a 13-month period," stated Marshall.
For the leaders of these departments, the lasting effects of losing one of their own weighs heavily on their shoulders.
"It’s still real close," said Chief McMurray. "Still real close."
The Attorney General challenged communities across the state to better support law enforcement.
"These events in isolation is unacceptable. When viewed together, the deaths of these heroes are even worse," Marshall continued. "The vast majority of our criminal justice policy debates center upon reducing punishment and limiting the tools of law enforcement and prosecutors, all driven by the desire to reduce prison population at all cost, but I submit to you, Alabama does not have an incarceration problem. We have a crime problem and good policing, proactive policing, stops crime from happening in the first place."
Marshall blames a shift in culture and societal attitudes for the increased violence.
"We need our local law enforcement to be engaged in our neighborhoods, stopping the bad guys and fostering a safe environment for the good ones," Marshall said. "(But) That kind of policing must be supported and welcomed by the citizens for whom law enforcement serves."
"My first 15 years, we never lost one, and these last few years, it’s been picking up quite a bit," said Chief McMurray. "Aggravated assault on police officers are picking up."
On Tuesday, Chief McMurray had an officer assaulted on duty.
"This is just becoming a common place, where people are becoming combative, and they have to remember police officers are not the law. We take them and hold them accountable to the law," McMurray continued. "So if you're arrested, don’t take that up with the officer. Take it up with the judge and get your day in court."
Marshall delivered a strong message for those who think otherwise.
"Any person who would attempt to harm or do harm law enforcement in Alabama, our state, local and federal partnerships have never been stronger and we will not rest until we are satisfied that justice has been served," said Marshall.
Marshall did not introduce or recommend any new legislation to protect officers. Wednesday served as a reminder of the important work they do.