High alert

Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The stabbing death of Mobile police officer Steven Green last Friday has rocked law enforcement departments throughout the region — including Atmore and Escambia County.

Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said his officers will be paying “a little more attention” to their surroundings in the wake of the murder in Mobile.

“In this job you get a complacent at times because you see the same things every day,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, it cost this officer his life. It’s easy to say what you’d do in a particular situation, but until you’re faced with it you really don’t know how you would react.”

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In the initial information surrounding the case in Mobile, it was thought the stabbing death of Green occurred when the suspect used a knife-like object concealed in a medallion worn around his neck. That object, and others like it, is included in law enforcement alerts given to agencies across the nation.

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran has since said he does not believe the necklace was used in the stabbing, but Escambia County Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said his department had already received the alert concerning items such as the medallion worn by the suspect in Mobile.

“We get those alerts any time a new kind of potential weapon is discovered,” Lambert said. “We knew about the kind of medallion he was wearing. It’s hard to say what anyone would do in a situation like that, but those alerts give us something to watch for and be more aware of as we conduct our business of dealing with criminals.”

Smith said his department comes into contact with suspects just like the one who killed the Mobile officer on a regular basis.
“Every officer has arrested that same kind of person a thousand times,” Smith said. “We’ve seen that same attitude and heard those same comments.”

The southeast region reports the highest rate of police officers killed in the line of duty in the United States, Smith said.

“When an officer is killed in the line of duty it’s a hard thing to accept,” Smith said. “But, we face that possibility every day. Each case is different; every suspect is different and reacts in different ways. When we’re out on the job, we know we face an honor thing with suspects. When you offend them by arresting them, you’re at your own peril. You never know what’s going through the mind of a suspect and how they will handle a situation. We always have to be alert, prepared and ready to react.”

Lambert said sheriff’s deputies have a little more of a handicap when it comes to safety.

“We cover 1,000 miles of area in this county,” Lambert said. “Sometimes that means that we have an officer answering a call far from town. Because that officer knows that his back up might be 25 miles or more away, he’s a little more particular on how he handles a situation and takes precautions to be on his guard.”