How do you deal with a situation that is so unthinkable and so horribly tragic that it defies the imagination?
Our communities are finding out right now.
On June 30, Prestonsburg Police Capt. Ralph Frasure, Prestonsburg Police K9 Officer Jacob Chaffins and Floyd County Sheriff’s Deputy William Petry, along with Floyd County Sheriff’s Office K9 Drago, were killed while investigating a domestic violence case at Allen.
I would imagine that, in any community, a situation such as this would be deeply felt and those involved would be mourned. In a small community such as ours, in which “everyone knows everyone,” it is devastating, and it’s going to take a lot of time for us to recover.
While the community’s suffering is great right now, I can’t imagine the suffering currently being felt by the officers’ family and friends and their brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
Every day throughout our communities, men and women leave their homes to enter into a world few of us could survive. They are the police that serve our rural communities.
Often, they are alone when they approach incidents, and they see the worst (and sometimes best) of humanity each day as they stand between us and those who would do us harm through their actions.
They are assaulted, threatened and spit upon. At a greater level, especially in these days, there are those who would prefer that they not even exist at all, positing that that somehow we could magically be safer without these guardians at the watch.
Our families are protected by men and women who we rarely see doing their work, because it often happens in places and situations most of us never encounter.
But they make that commitment. Despite all the critics, despite all the threats and dangers, despite being paid far less than what they deserve, they get up each day and put on a badge, not knowing if it’s the last time, all because they know it’s the right thing to do.
On June 30 at Allen, we lost some of the guardians, while others were injured. Prosecutors allege the subject of a domestic violence investigation came up with an evil plan and decided that these police officers’ lives were worth less than his.
As a community, we must recognize the danger these men and women face every day, the sacrifices they make and do what we can to ensure they’re appreciated and taken care of.
While we often think of the danger officers face in the “big” cases — massive drug busts, robberies, burglaries and other situations — what we must recognize is the danger they face in the far more common “domestic dispute” cases is staggering.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice study of law enforcement fatalities between 2010 and 2016, out of 81 cases examined, the greatest number of deaths occurring in any single type of call — 29 percent — occurred in responses to “domestic disputes.” In the years 2015 and 2016 alone, the report shows, domestic dispute calls represented 41 percent of fatal calls for service.
The report refers to domestic disputes as “the most dangerous circumstance.”
Several of those deaths, the report said, occurred in ambush situations, such as that the officers allegedly walked into on June 30.
Domestic violence is a real problem. If you’re a victim, get help. This type of crime, no matter how “minor,” is often just a preview of the aggressor’s capacity to cruelly inflict pain.
In Pike, Floyd or Johnson, contact Turning Point Domestic Violence services at, (800) 649-6605. In Perry, contact LKLP Safehouse at, (800) 928-3131. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is, (800) 799-SAFE.
Our officers face this every single day and often serve as the only line of defense families have against this heinous crime. The least we can do is respect and support them and their families for what they give and what they’re willing to give.
Our prayers are with the families, friends and brothers and sisters of the officers killed and injured on June 30, as well as our entire region.
Let’s make sure their sacrifices are not forgotten and not in vain.