~By Kyle. S. Reyes, National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today
EVERYWHERE, USA- At 1 a.m., I missed a couple of calls from a friend of mine. Then I got the text: 9-1-1.
I called him. Because Houston and I text. He only calls me when someone is dead.
I could hear it in Houston’s voice. I knew we had lost someone.
“Stephen’s dead,” he told me. “He was on duty tonight and got called out. They shot him and killed him, man.”
A dad of three. The nicest guy you’ll ever meet. A man who loved his family more than anything in the world. Gone – just like that.
The guy who broke the news to me? A police officer who took a shotgun blast to the face, barely survived, and is still a freaking cop. How’s that for perspective?
Then came the call from one of my writers.
“I’m so sorry I went dark tonight and couldn’t turn any more pieces. Someone showed up at my house and started screaming ‘fuck the police’ repeatedly while my kids were outside playing.”
It was a rough night for her. She had just gotten some of the most hateful emails I’ve ever seen – all while reporting on the horror. All while her husband was on duty.
By the way, she’s a former cop.
Now let’s flash back a few days.
To when an officer pulled me over.
Why? To warn me.
Not for speeding. Not for talking on my cell phone.
For having a Thin Blue Line sticker on my car and a decal for Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.)
“I just wanted to give you a heads up we’re seeing a LOT of vandalism on cars that have stickers in support of the police. I appreciate you – but I also want you to be aware.”
In less than a week, we’ve had some ten million pageviews on our website from people wanting to know what’s happening in the world.
And with that have come the emails – and the personal message through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to our writers.
“Fuck you – I hope you die.”
“Cops are pigs and we’re going to burn them in a roast.”
“We’re going to rape your wives.”
Every day, I’m getting literally hundreds of messages sent to me from cops across the country – and their supporters.
Screenshots of horrific threats being made to them.
Pictures of mutilations.
Destroyed vehicles. Vandalized homes. Torched businesses.
And so we had to make a difficult decision. Continue our transparency of who our team is? Or protect them?
As journalists, we believe in full transparency. But as humans – and parents – our top priority is keeping our people safe.
We have well over 100 writers – and more than 80% of them are active, retired or wounded officers.
The majority of the rest are widows of fallen officers or other family members and supporters.
And so today, we’ve made the decision to remove the names of the staff bringing you stories.
Earlier this week, we told you about how law enforcement officials from across the country have reached out to Law Enforcement Today asking us to warn police across America about a potential threat.
And since dropping the article on Monday morning, we’ve received word from numerous people letting us know they’ve seen similar suspicious activity in their communities.
We’ve spoken with countless officers in the past few days from across the country – all of whom have reported that their departments have made internal changes over the past few days to ensure both the on-duty and off-duty safety of their officers.
Transparently – our team debated internally whether or not to cover this story. We are America’s largest law enforcement owned and operated media outlet, and we are unapologetically pro-police.
Although we don’t hesitate to call out and provide media coverage of bad apples, our priority is in giving the voice to law enforcement that they’re often denied in the mainstream media.
The last thing we want to do is put officers at risk by giving bad people ideas.
But soon after this threat started spreading like wildfire online, we had law enforcement from across the country reach out. They pointed out that the threat is already circulating.
Many have asked us to address it so that departments are aware of it and can take precautions to make changes, if they deem it necessary – especially given how quickly it’s circulating.
They made a valid point – it’s better to be aware of a potential danger and take precautions than to not know about it because of a national breakdown in communication.
It’s worth noting that we have NOT received any confirmation of this from the FBI. With that said, a number of agencies have confirmed for us off the record that they’re aware of it and are making internal changes. We’ve been asked for obvious reasons to not report which agencies they are.
Here’s what we’re told.
In a number of different communities in states ranging from California and Texas to Florida – reports have come in that small groups of individuals appear to be canvassing neighborhoods and taking pictures of homes that have police cruisers in the driveways.
“I can absolutely confirm this,” told us one police spokesman, who asked that his department be kept anonymous because of the threats. “We’ve received multiple reports throughout the weekend both in terms of phone calls and alerts that neighborhood residents are putting out on community watch apps.”
It comes as police are receiving direct, personal threats through social media, calls and emails.
“We and our children are receiving threats,” one police lieutenant told Law Enforcement Today.
The departments we spoke with said that they’re currently making policy changes so that take-home police cruisers are either garaged or – for now – left at the police departments.
“We expect danger when on the job,” said one sergeant. “But this is different. They are threatening to burn down our homes and kill our families.”
Officials have also told us that they’re instructing officers to make other changes, such as making sure uniforms aren’t hanging in personal vehicles while driving into work.
“Effective starting this past weekend, no police vehicles – including unmarked vehicles – will be brought up,” one Captain told Law Enforcement Today. “This isn’t to punish our guys – it’s to protect them and their families.”
Bottom line is this. Right now, whether we want to admit it or not, this nation is at war. We just have to figure out how we’re going to save America.
Now I want to leave you with the tribute article from this morning for our friend Sgt. Stephen Williams.
Because even though we’re asking our team to go silent on who they are… we will NOT sit on our asses and be silent about what we stand for.
Sgt. Williams – love you, brother. We won’t allow you to be forgotten.
MOODY, AL – I was a journalist for years. I was trained to remove emotion from my writing. That’s not going to happen here.
One of the kindest police officers our team at Law Enforcement Today has ever known was murdered last night.
His name was Sgt. Stephen Williams and worked at the Moody Police Department in Alabama.
Let me give you the official details first.
Sgt. Williams was shot and killed Tuesday night when responding to a call at the Super 8 motel. A man and a woman are in custody in connection with his killing.
Their names haven’t been released at this time.
Now let me tell you what the police department told the media about him.
According to Chief Thomas Hunt, Williams had just been promoted to sergeant in the past year. He was a recipient of the Keith Turner Officer of the Year Award.
“Oh, he was awesome,’’ Hunt said of Williams. “He was just a good man, a good person, fun to be around.
“He was very thorough in his reports, a good teach, a good mentor,’’ the chief said. “A lot of the guys looked up to Stephen.”
“All I can ask is for everybody to please be in prayer for the Williams family and for the Moody police department,” Hunt said.
Now let me tell you a little bit about this kind and brave warrior.
Sgt. Williams was a husband and dad.
He had three kids. He was only 50 years old.
He was named Officer of the Year a few years back. He’d been a cop for 23 years – the last three years in Moody.
Sgt. Williams was the guy I’d call when I got depressed about all of the negative media coverage out there about law enforcement. When I needed private guidance on how our team should structure a story. When I needed a reminder that no matter how dark the world seems, there are people out there full of light.
Stephen was the guy people could call in the middle of the night when they were struggling. When they were alone. When they were in a dark place.
He was the guy you could call to share a funny story with. He was the guy you could Snap ridiculous videos to.
He wasn’t a “cop” to us. He was a brother. A role model. A beacon of light.
In his 23 years in law enforcement, Sgt. Williams greatest joy was in bringing the community and law enforcement together. His pages and posts on social media are endless streams about just that.
We’re going to bring you more on this story in the coming days, but as I type this through tears, I want to leave you with one fine taste of who this man was.
A man who loved his community.
A man who was an incredibly proud and loving dad.
A man who didn’t deserve to be killed… much less to die in some cheap motel at the hands of cowards.
Sgt. Williams was a regular contributor for Law Enforcement Today. But he was also incredibly humble and didn’t want attention – and so he asked us to hide his identity.
Brother Stephen, I hope you’ll forgive me for this from up there with the angels.
Today… as our hearts break for the loss of this great man, I’d like to leave you with a story he shared with us at Law Enforcement Today.
In his story, he says:
“I like to stop moving and just watch sometimes. You’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it.”
Today… take a moment to stop moving. Just watch. Take it in. Hold your families a little tighter. Because you’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it… time.
This was the man behind the badge. This was the father. Husband. Community leader. Brother.
This was the man who was murdered… for nothing.
This badge is heavy.
Not in actual weight, but the weight it carries. I’ll get back to that.
I like to stop moving and just watch sometimes. You’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it.
Today I decided to park and watch, but not in one of my usual places. I decided to make a change, for no other reason than to have something different to see.
There I sat, unentertained and bored. I decided to move again.
As soon as my hand reached for the shift lever a car swooped in, and it was really coming. It was moving with haste. I figured there was a medical emergency inside the car.
I jumped out so not to be sitting still when the car stopped right beside me and be caught off guard. The car didn’t even get stopped before the window went down and the driver called out, “Officer, can I talk to you?”
I tapped my body cam twice and said, “Sure.”
The man exited his vehicle and immediately began to pour out his soul to me. He was struggling with something and wanted to share it with someone. Share it with anyone who would listen. As it turns out today that someone was me. So I listened.
He explained in great detail what he was dealing with and it was exasperating. I sympathized with him as best I could.
But then he explained how all he wanted was to be there for his young son, who has special needs.
As most of you know, I don’t take fatherhood lightly. I listened intently as he told his story.
He even showed me a noose he made last night and told me he nearly hanged himself.
He was desperate and seemingly alone in his struggles, barely clinging to his sanity and life. He cried to me as he just pleaded for some direction.
I spent thirty minutes with a man, a total stranger with whom I had nothing in common.
We looked different. We spoke differently. We dressed differently. We grew up on opposite sides of the tracks.
There was no common life experience we shared, except we were both fathers. We had that one thing that bound us together at that moment.
The more we talked we learned we did have some of the same life experiences, he was just behind me a few years. I told him about myself and what I had been through.
Sometimes it is enough to know that you are not the only one who has ever fought this fight. That seemed to bolster him.
He now had a rudimentary plan. Just a start, but it was a start. Any start is better than being stagnant.
We shook hands, then simultaneously leaned in and hugged. I felt the struggle in him. He felt my support. That’s all he needed for today I suppose. We said our goodbyes and salutations.
I did not know this man. I had no history with him. I can’t even tell you his name.
But our encounter happened because I parked in a different location, in a marked patrol car, wearing a badge.
A very heavy badge.
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