Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR's local journalism that brings clarity, context, and community!

After Dallas Sniper Ambush, Police Warned To Be On Alert


We're now going to bring in NPR's Martin Kaste, who's been monitoring police reaction around the country to this tragedy in Dallas. Martin, what have you been seeing?

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Well, the initial reaction from police chiefs in many cities is to take precautions. In some cities, the chiefs have told officers not to patrol alone, to go out in pairs. A couple places, they've recommended ballistic vests. It - I think it's more out of a sense of abundance of caution, especially just given the uncertain news coming out of Dallas and the fact that in some cities there were still sort of some - you know, some demonstrations ending. And no one was quite sure what to expect there.

We haven't seen anything similar to Dallas, besides, you know, small property damage in other places - and Dallas stands alone. So right now it's a sense of just precaution.

MARTIN: I mean, after Ferguson, Martin - obviously a tectonic shift in the relationship between police forces around this country and the communities they protect. But when these police would go out to monitor these protests, which have been happening all over, were they preparing for something like this? Had they trained for something like this?

KASTE: I don't think this kind of scenario was the chief fear. I think police have been far more worried about ambushes in their daily routines. Many of them recall very vividly the ambush deaths of two New York Police Department officers in December of 2014. That was just a few months after the Ferguson protests. They were killed in their car, ambushed. There was a sheriff's deputy in Texas last summer who was, again, ambushed and killed at a gas station.

Those incidents aren't frequent. Statistically, they're not a leading - anywhere near a leading cause of death for officers. But they certainly haunt them. They worry about it. And they certainly - it accounts, perhaps, for some of the caution and nervousness in some of these encounters with members of the public.

MARTIN: NPR's Martin Kaste. We are continuing to follow the news out of Dallas this morning. To recap, here's what we know at this hour - five police officers are dead. Six other police and one protester are wounded. This happened after a night of what were peaceful demonstrations in the city of Dallas. Three suspects are in custody. One is reported dead. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.