Three days after tragedy unfolded in Dallas, South Plains communities are still reeling after 5 Texas law enforcement officers were killed by a gunman.
Sunday, communities in Lubbock and Levelland came together to pray and show support for local law enforcement officers. In Levelland, over 50 community members gathered to pray together at the Levelland Police/ Hockley County Law Enforcement Center. Over 200 people assembled in Lubbock at the Law Enforcement Memorial at the First Responders Memorial at Leroy Elmore Park. At both gatherings, community leaders, first responders, law enforcement, and community members of all ages stood side by side in prayer.
Stan McKinney who organized the Lubbock event explained that the idea came to him Friday, but that he had no idea so many people would show up.
“We’re the biggest little town in Texas,” McKinney said of Lubbock. “That’s what it is, everybody comes together, you know we see each other at the grocery stores, we know who everybody is. Everybody comes together as one.”
Levelland organizers said they were also pleasantly surprised with the number of people who showed up to pray for law enforcement officers and their families.
“I felt an immense sense of peace, it’s been hot but i was still and quiet when everybody started praying,” explained Ashley Scifres, the wife of a Yoakum County law enforcement officer.
She attended the Levelland event alongside many other law enforcement wives she has come to know. These wives explained that this past week has been very difficult for them as they process the deaths of the officers in Dallas.
“It’s heart breaking to know that one of our brothers or sisters has been killed in the line of duty protecting others, and not only that but to be ambushed is even more heartbreaking, that really hearts,” said Shayna Scott, who’s husband is a constable for Hockley County.
Scott and Scifres said that events like the one in Dallas demonstrate how many risks law enforcement officers encounter in their daily work.
“We need to keep be praying for these guys and keep telling them we love them in the community and tell them thank you for what they do,” Scifres said. “It’s hard, they don’t get a lot of thanks, they are under scrutiny 24/ 7 and to get ‘thank you’s’ and ‘we appreciate you’s’ is huge. They will never ask for them, but it’s a big deal.”
Cassie Bennett felt similarly, she attended the Lubbock event to support her brother who works in law enforcement near Amarillo.
Praying has helped her to cope with the difficult news out of Dallas this week.
“I think my heart sunk into my stomach a little bit [when I heard], it’s too close to home with it being in Texas,” Bennett said. “It’s just a lot to take in and makes me worry about my brother a little bit more and I just pray, I pray that they stay safe.”
Sgt. Craig Hancock of the Levelland Police said that he was awestruck with the community support he and his officers received Sunday.
He said that supervisors with Levelland Police have been offering extra support to officers after the Dallas shootings. While it’s an emotional time for the police department, Hancock explained that there’s also an understanding that everyone has to press forward to keep protecting their community.
“I have actually been to very similar events [before], Levelland is a great community and they’ve done this before. The only thing that I regret is that it takes a tragedy like this for that to happen,” Hancock said. “I would like to see this happen more often, we heard some people speak today about how our country needs to heal, and that’s exactly right, and it starts with communities like this.”