AL leaders to law enforcement officers: 'We've got your back'

Published: Jul. 20, 2016 at 11:31 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2016 at 8:18 PM CDT
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Alabama's Capitol illuminated in blue for law enforcement. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Alabama's Capitol illuminated in blue for law enforcement. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Stan Stabler visited the Montgomery Police Department Wednesday morning to thank police officers across the state for their service and dedication.

The meeting with Governor Bentley, ALEA Sec. Stabler, and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange sent a message to officers after a wave of police shootings that, "We have your back".

This is a continued effort by officials to show appreciation to law enforcement officers.

State officials say they realize how important law enforcement is in having a working society.

"The state police and all of the police across this state, they protect society. You keep us free because if we didn't have our police forces, we would have anarchy..." Gov. Bentley said. "...Any way we can help you on the state level, we want to do that. We want to help you and help the city, and help every city and law enforcement, not only on the city level but the state level."

Governor Bentley said his visit to the city and the department was to show his appreciation for what officers do each day.

"Everyday you put your lives on the line. You get up and go to work and you expect to come home, your families expect you to come home and I expect you to come home," Bentley stated.

Reporter Michael Doudna talked with ALEA Sec. Stabler after the meeting. Stabler said that there may need to be some policy changes following recent events that have unfolded across the country. Officials are also having meetings to discuss how to better protect our officers.

"I want everyone across this country to know that as Governor of this state, we are going to have your back and we are going to do whatever it takes and whatever is needed to protect you." Gov. Bentley expressed. "You have to try to do your job and you shouldn't have to concentrate on whether you, yourself are going to be shot at or if someone is going to attack you. You have to keep the peace and you cannot be worried about your back all the time."

The state is honoring law enforcement all this week. On Sunday the Capitol building was illuminated in blue to honor the state's over 16,000 officers. It will stay lit at night for the remainder of the week. But symbols do not help with officer safety. After recent budget cuts, the state's police force is woefully understaffed with many officers working solo, covering massive parts of the state.

"Well that is an issue," Bentley said, "and that is one of the issues we will be addressing, but we do the best we can with the amount of money that we have."

The issue is more complex than just finding money, as some people say they are being victimized by police. Bentley says he understands, but asks for caution.

"We are sympathetic also, but targeting our police officers is not the answer," Bentley said. "No matter who they are, rich poor, black, white it doesn't matter. But we need to respect each other, so that's the thing, we need to work on that. This is a heart issue, not necessarily a police issue. "

Stan Stabler said after the meeting law enforcement is taking a new look at how to make officers safer.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.