Sheriff, Dodge City residents discuss recent attacks on cops

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Sharon Schuler Kreps
If people don’t know who their deputies are, then we are failing. There are places that see law enforcement and the citizens as two separate entities, us and them; law enforcement and citizens. Thankfully in Cullman County, it is us and us.”
Sheriff Matt Gentry

 

DODGE CITY – The mood was serious on Thursday evening at the Dodge City Community Center. A small group of concerned citizens gathered for some real talk with Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry. The topic was something that has become all too common lately: attacks on law enforcement.

Gentry was, and is always, quick to point out that he feels the citizens of Cullman County are the best in the state. But, he still wanted to address the fact that today’s law enforcement officers are facing situations they have never before had to deal with, along with an underlying amount of evil and hate throughout the nation.

“This is something that is very new to us as a whole law enforcement community, and it’s scary,” he stated. “It’s scary that what we are going to face in the upcoming months and years, especially since the Dallas shootings, that you are seeing law enforcement targeted.

“For me, personally, I think that the leadership, I’m talking about in Washington, sets the tone of these actions,” he explained. “You can do it by the way you present things to the media; it causes an unright tone of evil and anger among groups.

“We live in a media age today where I’m going to take a cell phone video and I am going to show you, the citizens, 30 seconds of an incident. I’m going to give you what I want you to think it is and I’m going to make you have something in your mind, good or bad, off of that 30-second clip. Is it perception or reality? This is the world we live in today.”

Law enforcement has definitely been targeted here in Cullman, but it hasn’t been all bad. There have been lots of positive things going on, which should be noted as well.

“If we lose grace and compassion, as a law enforcement officer, we fail the community,” he smiled. “I don’t think the people of the community realize that. By community, I’m talking about (just) the citizens of Cullman County, because ever since the Dallas shooting, every day there have been parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents and groups that have come to the sheriff’s office and fed us, brought us cakes and children bringing drawings and all this to support us. I’m telling you, there’s probably not another place in the state of Alabama as special as Cullman County. Today we were fed twice!”

Gentry explained that law enforcement is a part of the community. There has to be interaction between the citizens of the community and law enforcement officers.

“If people don’t know who their deputies are, then we are failing. There are places that see law enforcement and the citizens as two separate entities, us and them; law enforcement and citizens. Thankfully in Cullman County, it is us and us.”

Towards the end of the evening there was a question and answer session. Several questions were asked of Gentry. One question was unique, especially during this day and age.

“What can we do as citizens to better support you guys?” asked Jim Mermis.

“The biggest thing is what you already do in Cullman County,” Gentry replied. “When you can have a group of people come together who care about law enforcement like yourselves, see that’s a win-win. Just watch out for them (law enforcement), just be aware for them. Support them.”

The evening was filled with important information. Members of the audience had several interesting discussions with the sheriff as well. Gentry did an excellent job of addressing the more depressing issues that have come up in law enforcement over the past few weeks. The Town of Dodge City was very grateful for the event and those in attendance expressed their appreciation for the work of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.