On the heels of the deadly ambush on officers in Dallas this week and growing tensions across the United States, NBC 7 reached out to one local police officer for insight on what it’s like to be an officer patrolling the streets in today’s climate.
The idea for this came from a San Diego woman who bought a local police officer his coffee Friday morning, hours after the horrific attack in Dallas that left five officers dead and seven others injured.
It was her way of saying, “You’re in my thoughts.” She said, to her surprise, he choked up. He was obviously impacted by the Dallas attack.
On Friday night, Officer Jose Lopez of the Oceanside Police Department (OPD) agreed to allow NBC 7 on a ride-along interview.
Lopez has been in law enforcement for 20 years. You could say he’s seen it all, but even the veteran officer admitted coming to work the morning after the Dallas attack felt a little different.
“We work in a great city, but could that happen here? Could someone from somewhere else come and do the same thing here?” Lopez pondered, as he and an NBC 7 crew drove through the streets of Oceanside in San Diego’s North County.
“What would you do? How would you respond to make sure your brothers and sisters you work with are safe and the citizens you serve,” he added.
Lopez said he went to bed Thursday night thinking of the slain Dallas officers and their families. He discussed the deadly attack with his wife and two sons.
Lopez said one of his sons is considering becoming a police officer.
“Yes, it’s in the back of his mind. That’s why he calls and texts me all the time,” he said.
Lopez said, for him, the deadly shooting in Dallas in no way discourages him from being a police officer.
He said the opposite is true. He is inspired by his brothers and sisters who threw themselves into the line of fire when shots rang out. He’s also inspired by regular citizens who have shown support.
He said Friday a man randomly came up to him at the beach.
“He told us we were in his prayers. He began to tear up, and it pulls on your heartstrings. When people come up to you like that. That’s what it is,” Lopez reflected. “[I think] ‘Yes, I do matter to the public we serve,’”
The Oceanside Police Department arrived to work Friday morning to several gift baskets from the community, according to Lopez. He said he spent time reading over every card because they meant that much to him and to every officer who read them.