Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent says he’s thankful to have the support of the city’s residents in the wake of the fatal shootings of law enforcement officers in Texas and Louisiana and heightened pressure on police around the nation.
Vincent responded Tuesday, June 19, to physical displays of support in the city and messages his department received from the public following the shooting of five officers in Dallas on July 7 and of three officers in Baton Rouge last Sunday, July 17.
On Monday, in addition to flying the U.S. flag at half mast, city officials added a blue and black police flag to the pole at the Gulfport Public Library and bathed the flags at City Hall and the municipal pier in blue lights.
“It was basically done out of respect for the fallen officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and in support of our own Gulfport police officers,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly said.
“I am personally very thankful for the recognition,” Vincent said in an email. “I know we’ve always had the support of our city leaders, and this shows it in a very personal way.”
In addition, he wrote, “100% of social media comments, letters, and other communication from the public following the officers’ shootings has been supportive and in recognition of the professional job our officers do on a daily basis.”
He said in the first six months of this year, “there has not been a single inquiry or investigation for employee misconduct” in the department, adding that this is a direct reflection of its professionalism.
“We have been wearing our mourning bands on our badges consistently now for almost two weeks,” he said. “Seeing the black band across the badge for such a long period serves as a reminder of the dangers we face in this job.
“Every officer handles such circumstances differently,” he continued, “but I know that all are working under a heightened state of alert as they go about their daily business, both on and off duty.”