GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Metro Atlanta law enforcement officials and supporters are expressing sorrow and concern Sunday after a deadly ambush of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Authorities say Gary Long of Missouri shot and killed three police officers and injured three others in Baton Rouge. The southern city has been on high alert for two weeks after the shooting death of a man by police outside a convenience store. Just days after that incident, which was captured on cell phone video, another man ambushed and killed five police officers securing a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas.
The motive for the Baton Rouge shooting is unknown. However, many people believe it's time for law enforcement and communities to band together.
Retired 26-year police veteran Vincent Champion told FOX 5 News some police officers have apprehension on the job because of the recent tragedies.
"There are people who need our help. That's what we are here to do. But now when they call 911 that officer is thinking, 'Am I going to be ambushed? Or, am I truly going to save someone's life?'" Champion asked.
Champion also serves as the southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. His son works as a police officer in Florida. He wants the public to gain a better understanding of officers' roles in their neighborhoods.
"Go look at their pay, go look at their pension and go look at what we do," Champion said. "We don't do this for any other reason than it's a calling to us. We are there to run to the danger when the everyday citizen runs away from it. But we do have bad people. We get it. But we try to weed those out as best we can."
Many people believe faith can play a role in bridging gaps.
Police departments often have chaplains who minister to first responders and civilians in crisis.
Gwinnett County Police Department Chaplain Russell Graves spoke with FOX 5 News.
"We have to stop and not operate out of our emotions..." Graves said. "The police department has to come together with the community and the community has to come together with the police department. We have to unify."
Graves added officers and the people they serve share the same pain during emergency situations.
"The officers, even under the blue, gray, brown or whatever they might be wearing, are humans. "They are emotionally tied to the situations that happen," Graves stressed.
Graves hopes everyone finds common ground and peace.
"Manpower is short in all police departments," Graves said. "If it keeps going at this rate, it's going to get shorter because no one will want to be a police officer. Then we will become a lawless society which is not what we want."