Pekin Police gives support to Dallas shooting victims

As children playing cops vs. robbers, the mindset for the robbers is simple: “It’s us against the police.” In America today, this mindset has become far too real.

In wake of the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, the Pekin Police Department is attempting to remind and reassure the Pekin community that they exist to serve and protect.

Pekin Police Chief John Dossey posted a lengthy message on the department’s Facebook page Friday morning, in which he expressed support and condolences to the Dallas Police Department and the families of the slain officers.

Public Information Officer Mike Eeten, who aided in penning the post, explained further.

“There is a certain closeness that you feel to others in uniform,” Eeten said. “So when you see somebody pay with their life, whether it’s five officers, or if it’s one officer, it’s the same sting to us.”

Eeten said the killings in Dallas deliver a “little extra sting,” because of their premeditated nature.

“When somebody goes out with the intent to just kill as many officers as they can, it’s hard to wrap your brain around,” he added. “I really think every citizen should feel angry and disgusted by what has happened. We are here to keep order and civility, so when you attack police officers, then you attack what this country stands for.”

In order to show support for these slain officers — and all others killed in the line of duty — Dossey has asked Pekin residents to install a blue lightbulb in one of their outside lights, as part of a nation-wide effort.

“The hardest thing is not knowing — not knowing how you’re perceived, not knowing if the public supports you,” Dossey said. “This is just an opportunity for the citizens to let us know what they think.”

He went on to explain how much it means to him to have citizens come up and thank him for the work he does.

“Ever since I’ve been a police officer, once or twice a week, people come up to you to say, ‘thank you for your service,’” he said. “And that’s good, because it means we are getting through to people.

Unfortunately, police and public relations have become strained across the nation.

While in negotiations with Dallas Police Thursday, one shooter told officers he was upset about the recent police involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, Dallas Chief of Police David Brown said. Both of these shootings are still under investigation.

With all of this recent activity in mind, Dossey decided it was time to make a statement to those he is sworn to protect.

“I had a sense that I wanted to reassure the public that we are doing the right things to form a partnership with our community,” Dossey said. “We work to be completely transparent, so that if there’s an issue I need to know about, as chief, then I can act on it immediately.”

Dossey explained that a good rapport with the community is important to the department and he vowed to work harder to strengthen this relationship. One way he said he hopes to do this is by providing citizens with outlets for communication with officers, through social media and the Coffee with a Cop program, which the department says is an opportunity to meet the officers of the neighborhood, without any agenda or speeches. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Starbucks, 3442 Court St.

“We talked about canceling (Saturday’s) Coffee with a Cop, but I think, in the light of all of this, having this for the community is important,” Dossey said. “People need to be able to have discussions with us and let us know how they’re feeling.”

Dossey said he believes a good relationship with the community starts with the youth, which is why they make a point of making presentations to local day camps and hosting events such as last month’s miniature golf outing.

“We had one boy there who was terrified of police officers, but by the end of the day we had built a good rapport with that kid,” he said. “We’re here for good and we all need to work to foster that environment.”

In the Facebook post, Dossey promised to publish a report in regards to the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing, outlining specific departmental efforts toward bringing the police and the people closer together.

From within Dossey’s post, shone a simple promise to this end: “We will accomplish this together.”