MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama lawmakers are reacting to the death of the sixth officer to die in the line of duty in Alabama in 2019. The most recent is Sheriff “Big John” Williams who was shot and killed Saturday night.
“One is horrible. Six is devastating," said Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road.
Five officers died due to gunfire in 2019. Ingram said this paints a picture of the growing lack of respect for law enforcement in today’s society.
“I think we need to be in our community a little more and teach people to respect law enforcement," Ingram said.
Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, shared a similar sentiment.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “It is an indication of the culture we are in right now."
Clouse said educating students at a young age can help change this. He pointed to fully funding pre-k for Alabama kids.
“It starts at an early age,” he said.
Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-Hayneville, represents the area where Sheriff Williams lived.
“Not only a growing disrespect for law enforcement, but just a growing disrespect for life in general. People don’t value a person’s life as they did previously or in the past," he said.
Lawrence said lawmakers need to come together and discuss how to end gun violence.
“We are in some trying times,” he said. “I am a pro-second amendment person, but I definitely think we need to come together to find ways to try and combat this.”
Former police chief Rep. Rex Reynolds, R-Madison County, said law enforcement needs more mental health training. He said lawmakers are looking at creating Critical Intervention Training facilities.
“Where we teach law enforcement to deal with mental health in the streets," Reynolds said.
He also said lawmakers will look at creating mental health facilities to send people with mental illness to for short periods of time instead of sending them to jails.
“It’s all about decreasing the encounters with law enforcement and increasing the encounters with mental health professionals and counselors," Reynolds said.