Law enforcement officers reflect on the challenges they face during National Police Weekend

“My men and women are out there protecting and serving,” Craven Co. Sheriff Chip Hughes said. “They’re passionate about what they do.”
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 7:54 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - In an emotional update on Friday, Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson described the bravery of his corporal in a deadly shooting of the suspect who they say had mental health issues.

The update came after an Edgecombe County deputy was stabbed twice in the back the day before.

“Despite being stabbed, he remained calm, still providing professional instructions to the other two deputies on the scene,” Atkinson said.

Thursday’s deputy-involved shooting hit home in Craven County where on Oct. 1, a deputy was shot by a suspect and is still recovering.

“It’s really hard to go in, day in, and day out, you don’t know what’s gonna happen next,” Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said.

“My four deputies that responded to the neighborhood where one of my deputies was shot and is now hospitalized at Vidant, you can’t foresee those things and day in, and day out, my men and women are out there protecting and serving. They’re passionate about what they do.”

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes

The Craven County Sheriff’s Office was responding to a wellness check before they say the suspect opened fire. Deputy Zachary Bellingham was injured and Hughes said it’ll be a lengthy recovery period.

“It has been a very emotional two weeks now since that happened,” Hughes said. “It is really tough every day to not get shook up at times. You know, this is… once again a wake-up call to all law enforcement officers throughout the nation.”

The wake-up call is what’s on the minds of hundreds of law enforcement officers who swore to protect and serve.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum established Police Weekend in 2020, which usually happens in May but was delayed this year due to the pandemic.

Police Weekend 2021 runs from Oct. 13th to Oct. 17th, 2021.

On Thursday, a candlelight vigil was held in Washington D.C. to remember the total of 22,611 officers killed in the line of duty. Their names were engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, according to the organization.

In Eastern North Carolina, Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck talked about the challenges they face.

“Time to time, we do have major events as well,” Buck said. “Whether they be homicides, serious assaults, we have natural disasters that certainly occur in this area with hurricanes and the like.”

Hughes added that the state and many counties have fallen short of taking care of the mental health issue, but for the Craven and Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, Hughes said they lean on non-profits and faith-based organizations to get into these jails and get people who need help, the help they need.

“Once again, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do day in and day out if it wasn’t for the support of our community. And for that, I’m so humbled and blessed.”

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes

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