gun control

1 officer fatally shot, 4 injured in 10-hour Texas standoff with barricaded suspect

“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own tonight, SWAT Commander Sgt. Josh Bartlett,”

July 16 (UPI) — A west Texas county sheriff’s sergeant was fatally shot and four other law enforcement agents were wounded in a shootout that erupted when confronting a suspect who had barricaded himself in a residence, authorities said.

“The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of our own tonight, SWAT Commander Sgt. Josh Bartlett,” the office said in a statement.

Police chief Albert Garcia of Levelland, west of Lubbock, told reporters during a press briefing that a second officer, Levelland police Sgt. Shawn Wilson, was in stable but critical condition after undergoing surgery.

The other injured officers, he said, were treated and released.

The Levelland Police Department said earlier that four law enforcement officers had been wounded, including two critically.

“In my career, it’s almost been 30 yeas in my career, and I have been through some pretty treacherous types of situations before in the past, but never have I lost anybody or never have I been a chief of police where I’ve had a member of my team be injured as severely as they have been today,” he said.

Garcia said the suspect, 22-year-old Omar Soto-Chavira, was taken into custody at around 11:30 p.m. and was transported to a local hospital to treat his undisclosed injuries.

The more than 10-hour standoff began after 1 p.m. Thursday when police were called to a residence in Levelland about a person “acting strange and walking around with what appeared to be a large gun,” a Garcia said in an earlier press briefing.

Not long after police arrived and contacted the suspect, he re-entered the residence and opened fire, Garcia said.

Bartlett was shot shortly after arriving on the scene to assist local police at 2:15 p.m. and was transported to Covenant Medical Center in Levelland where he was later pronounced dead, the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office said.

Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe described the residence to reporters as a mobile home and said they were able to take the suspect into custody with the use of a robot and gas that flushed him from the bathroom into an open area where he surrendered to police.

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish has ordered for flags on all county buildings to be lowered to half-staff in Bartlett’s honor.

“This terrible loss is a solemn reminder of the risks our brave law enforcement officers face while protecting our communities,” he said in a statement. “I ask all Lubbock County citizens to join us in praying for his family, for healing for the other officers who were injured in the standoff and for the entire Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department.”

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gun control

‘Who wants to be a cop?’

‘Who wants to be a cop?’: New series takes deep dive into Fla. police academy

Journalists at the Tampa Bay Times spent six months shadowing police recruits. This is their story

By Suzie Ziegler 

TAMPA, Fla. — A new series from the Tampa Bay Times asks one simple question: in an age of police reckoning, who wants to be a cop? 

To find an answer, Times journalists spent nearly six months at St. Petersburg College’s Law Enforcement Academy. There they were given permission to observe training as cadets tackled physical challenges and grappled with a national attitude shift about policing. The result is an eight-part series that takes a deep and poignant dive into the police recruit experience in 2021. 

The first three chapters are available now, with a new chapter released daily through July 18. 

According to the paper, the academy director allowed Times journalists to drop into classes and training at any time. They were present for most of the scenes described in the series and interviewed other attendees when they were not. The coaches provided copies of cadets’ textbooks, tests and slideshows. The journalists also closely followed three cadets, who shared their essays, presentations and test scores. 

In the first installment, recruits explained in their own words why they chose to attend the academy. 

“I want to come home at the end of the day and know I made a difference,” said Hannah Anhalt, a 25-year-old criminal justice major at the University of Central Florida.

[READ: What young cops want (and what police leaders can do about it)]

Another recruit described having positive interactions with police while growing up in a rough family. Others want to be heroes, find camaraderie, mirror their mentors and save juveniles from sex trafficking. 

These 30 recruits are mostly white and male, says the Times, but their class is still the most diverse yet: seven women, five Black people, two Latinos. Their instructor, identified as Coach Saponare, says he expected applications to plummet after last year’s protests. Instead, more people than ever applied.

[READ: Improving candidate diversity key mission of the Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment]

Follow the series here.

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