Wiregrass police dealing with violence responding to calls
DOTHAN, Ala. (WSFA) - Between Friday and Sunday, at least seven officers across the Wiregrass were injured responding to scenes.
“If nobody gets scared - they’re lying to you,” said Captain Scott Langley, Headland Police.
Langley, a 14-year veteran with the Headland Police Department, knows how quickly a 911 call can turn.
“I was just thinking about employees and the people in the store,” said Langley.
Langley was one of the seven officers physically attacked responding to calls over the weekend. He was hit in the head by the man he was trying to arrest. Police identified the suspect as Joshua Sowell, III. They say Sowell was causing a disturbance as the Sunstop Gas Station before he was arrested. He’s charged with Assault II, Assaulting a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Disorderly conduct, Attempting to Elude, Criminal Mischief.
“I was worn out, but feeling fine,” said Langley.
“Somebody spins around and deliberately attacks you - they’re changing the game,” said Captain Todd David, Dothan Police.
Dothan Police reported at least six of their officers were injured over the weekend.
Saturday, officers attempted to arrest Desmond Williams off Mobile Street during a traffic stop. Investigators say the tag on the car was switched. An officer caught him as he was trying to run and police say he turned and punched the officer in the face twice.
Williams is charged with Assault II, Possession Marijuana II, Driving While License Suspended, Obstructing Governmental Operations, and Attempt to Elude x2. Assaulting an officer is a felony. Police say Williams had 18 warrants for his arrest when he was taken into custody.
Fast forward to Saturday evening, four officers were injured trying to take a man into custody at Biltmore Place Apartments off Fortner Street. Police say the man was walking around the complex mimicking shooting people with an imaginary gun and believe he may have been under the influence. Police tried to tase him, but that wasn’t effective. At one point during the struggle, the man reached for a bag. Police later discovered he had several knives and a loaded 9 mm in it. Eventually, the officers were able to restrain him and take him into custody.
WSFA left a message with the apartment complex but did not receive a call back.
Sunday evening, an officer was punched in the face when trying to serve a warrant at a home.
These incidents come two weeks after two others with the department were attacked. One suffered a broken hand and is expected to return to full duty status in two months. Another officer suffered a broken leg and is expected to return to full duty status in six months.
Based on a 2018 study from USA Today, law enforcement ranked the 14th most dangerous jobs. Data studied from 2016 showed that 28,740 officers sustained nonfatal injuries. The most common accident is intentional injury by another person.
“It’s not enough for them to try and get away, they want to try and assault an officer. My guys are not punching bags,” said David.
One of the concerning trends officers are seeing is that the suspect is often under the influence.
“We’re dealing with a lot of synthetic marijuana that’s causing people to be uncontrollable and irate,” said Mark Jones
In at least three of the recent officer injuries, police reported the suspect to be under the influence.
Police say with each incident, they will adjust their training to be serve the community.
WSFA is still working to get information on all the people taken into custody
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