Police chief speaks out about officer safety

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur’s police chief Shane Brandel said the weekend police shooting could have been even worse.

He worries about his officers every day and he’s definitely not the only chief doing that. Brandel said being a police officer right now is a really tough job.

“One of the most difficult things about being a police officer is making sure your mindset is right for that given situation. Not every situation is a deadly situation,” said Brandel

He said police officers are dealing with a tough balance. They strive to be engaged with their community in a positive way, but they also never know what they’re going to encounter.

Brandel said, “As we’ve seen in the last month even in the most routine situations it can turn deadly for the police officers.” he said, “So they have to approach each scenario keeping in mind that it could go very bad for them.”

He said officers are dealing with more stress than they ever have. Police dying in the line of duty is at a 20 year high in Illinois. Five were killed in 2021.

“It’s stressful on not just the officers but the organization and the community as well because if the officers hesitate to act when they should act that outcome could be must worse than it would have had they just acted like they know they should have,” said Brandel

We went to the neighborhood where officer Stephanie Vail was shot on Saturday. One neighbor told me she’s thankful police are still willing to step up to the plate, even when it’s difficult.

“For a traffic stop no one should be getting gunned down,” said neighbor Sandra Lee, “I feel bad for them they’re out here doing their job and with what they’re doing most of them are upright, with what they’re doing protecting the communities and doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re putting their lives on the line for us,” she said.

Brandel said, fixing the problem is two-fold. He said they have to look at police interactions, but they also have to look at the back end, when it comes to punishing repeat offenders. He said that it takes an even balance to help curb the violence.

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