Fatal shooting of Texas deputy a sign of changing attitudes towards police

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- Many in the policing community say it is a tough time to be an officer, especially since last year's police killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York.

Many officers say there has been a more pronounced anti-police attitude across the country. It culminated last Friday with the assassination of a sheriff's deputy in Texas.

Police officers are there to serve and protect. "They want to help save lives, they want to help people to have a quality of life," says retired Police Chief Charles Gibson.

Gibson worked for 30 years for the Oakland Police Department and just retired after ten years as Police Chief for the Contra Costa Community College District. He's concerned about current officers.

"They didn't sign up to get killed," he said.

The killing of sheriff's deputy Darren Goforth in an unprovoked attack at a Texas gas station has officers watching their backs with greater vigilance.

"To be attacked for no reason other than the fact that you're wearing a blue uniform, that's pretty scary stuff," said San Francisco Police Officer Gary Delagnes, who represents the city's police union.

Delagnes has been with SFPD for 35 years, but says the job has changed dramatically.

"It's at the point where, as I've told people, my 21-year-old son has indicated he'd like to be a police officer and I'm trying to talk him out of it," explained Delagnes. "I don't think it's a good time to enter this profession."

Another case that concerns officers was last week in Oakland when a female officer was attacked by a man with a bicycle chain. She shot and killed him after, according to investigators, he struck her in the head and neck multiple times.

And yet, some people at the scene blamed the officer, saying she didn't need to open fire.

The changing attitude about police that some have -- which is partly motivated by issues of race and the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner -- makes officers nervous.

"You stop asking your oppressor don't shoot me. Quit putting your hands up, talking about don't shoot. Put your fists up and you fight back. You fight the system, and that's the only way we're going to win this," exclaimed Cadine Williams of Oakland, who was protesting at the Oakland scene after the officer killed the man with the chain.

"It's interesting that when we have a Ferguson or a New York, all we hear is anti-police rhetoric. But when cops are murdered, the silence is deafening," said Gary Delagnes.

Police say officers who make mistakes should be held accountable. But they add a few bad apples should not ruin everyone's reputation.

Former Police Chief Gibson says the media is partly to blame because of the way it presents the news.

"We don't see those hundreds of thousands of cases where the officer helped people; where the officers saved lives," said Gibson

Despite the harsh feelings and anti-police rhetoric, officers say they know most people are in the silent majority, who supports what they do.

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