Police Families Asking, ‘When Is It Going to Stop?’

Officers and the public bow heads in prayer at Tuesday night’s Fort Worth Police Department forum at Great Commission Baptist Church. Joyce Marshall jlmarshall@star-telegram.com BY DIANE SMITH
Officers and the public bow heads in prayer at Tuesday night’s Fort Worth Police Department forum at Great Commission Baptist Church. Joyce Marshall jlmarshall@star-telegram.com
BY DIANE SMITH

Tara Higgins makes sure her cellphone battery isn’t low when her daughter, a police officer, goes to work.

Once her daughter’s workday starts, Higgins listens to a police scanner, counting the hours until the shift ends.

She is diligent about sending her daughter a daily text, much like leaving a note in a child’s lunchbox: “Be careful. I love you.”

“It’s just so she knows, ‘My mom knows I am at work. My mom is thinking about me,’ ” Higgins said of her daughter, who is 23 and has been working for the Frisco Police Department since April.

Recent ambushes of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., have darkened the shadow of anxiety that comes with being the parent — or wife, son, grandfather, friend — of a cop.

“I just hugged her one million times,” Higgins said, recalling the first time she saw her daughter after the July 7 sniper attack in Dallas, which left five officers dead.

The attack on police officers in downtown Dallas began at the end of a peaceful march by protesters suppporting Black Lives Matter, a movement that emerged with the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., continued with the 2015 deaths of Christian Taylor in Arlington and Sandra Bland in Waller County, and escalated with the recent killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

The July 17 Baton Rouge shooting, which like the attack in Dallas was also carried out by a lone gunman, left three police officers dead, the latest numbers in an alarming trend.

The number of police officers killed with guns this year has increased 78 percent compared with last year, according to a national report released Wednesday.

“What matters to the people who are targeting us is not the color of the skin, but the badge on the chest,” said Amy Michlitsch, whose husband is a policeman in Haltom City.

Since the shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, many police departments, including Fort Worth, have doubled up on patrols and taken other protective measures.

In an effort to find solutions and calm the storm, town hall meetings have been held across the nation, featuring police chiefs, community leaders and politicians — inlcuding President Barack Obama.

At a community forum Tuesday night, Joel Fitzgerald, Fort Worth’s first black police chief, talked about the importance of building relationships.

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Source: Fort Worth Star Telegram | DIANE SMITH