The death of five Dallas police officers and the wounding of seven have left law enforcement officers on alert throughout all of America.
Even in our small county, Mineral County Sheriff’s deputies who patrol a county the size of Rhode Island and Delaware states, combined, are feeling the impact of the situation.
Though no threats have been made directly towards any deputies, Undersheriff Bill Ferguson explained, “We have asked our guys to have more situational awareness.”
Mineral County deputies normally patrol with only one deputy per car. In a county where towns are rurally spread out, this can leave an already thin squad – even thinner.
Ferguson agrees, “Unfortunately, we do not have the manpower to double up like other agencies have done.”
The outpouring of support for those who put their lives on the line daily has been overwhelming. In a county of just under 4,500 total population, deputies become not only familiar faces when they are on patrol, but also while shopping or spending time with family and friends.
Deputy Robert Pulley, President of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Deputy Association, explained that as of July 12, 61 law enforcement officers have died. Of those 61, 28 were from gunshots.
Even in sleepy Mineral County, the deputies that respond are not immune from violence.
“We are threatened weekly to monthly, each of us but about two times a year, those threats become serious,” Pulley explained.
With a background in military, Pulley knew he wanted to be an officer after doing a ride-along at the age of 17.
“I love what I do. The sense of pride in helping those in need. We all do it for the good people because not everyone can protect themselves,” he said.
When Pulley started with Mineral County Sheriff’s Office, he was making $11.78 an hour. Fifty cents more than the garbage man. Fifty cents more to put his life on the line.
That extra fifty cents an hour has to be stretched. Not only to daily expenses come into play, as well as raising families, but many of Mineral County deputies have bought excessive equipment such as hard armor and rifles. With limited revenue, Mineral County Sheriff’s Office has taken to getting grants for such simple things as bulletproof vests.
“Not everyone has vests and at $1,000 each, many of the deputies wear hand-me-downs until they expire (which is five years),” Pulley explained.
Today, Mineral County deputies start at $13.11 an hour and are the lowest paid law enforcement officers in the state, according to Pulley.
The question is – who is responsible for purchasing the safety equipment that could possibly save the life of an officer?
Remember that those that put their lives on the line each day – are the ones you call upon when yours is being compromised. A simple wave or hello to let these law enforcement officials know that there is still kindness.
“Today, we got a handshake from a little older lady. It’s good to know that people support us. A little bit of recognition let’s us know we are doing the right thing,” Pulley said.