Local law enforcement shaken by Meridian police officer’s on-duty death

Local law enforcement shaken by Meridian police officer’s on-duty death


The shooting death of a Meridian police earlier this month, who died answering a domestic violence call, has hit close to home for local law enforcement officers.

“We answer calls like this every day ourselves,” Philadelphia Police Chief Eric Lyons. “So, to see that officer go through that and know that we answer calls like this on a daily basis, it is something you think about.”

Meridian police officer Kennis Croom died from his wounds June 9 after responding to a domestic violence call. The suspect, Dante Bender, had already killed his pregnant girlfriend and attacked her children. He is charged with capital murder.

Officer Croom, who was laid to rest Saturday in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, was the first to arrive on the scene.

Sheriff Eric Clark talked about how quickly a situation in a domestic violence call can happen.

“That is always one of the biggest fears,” Clark said. “It is what we train for. It is always in the back of your mind. You are never totally prepared for a situation like that to unfold. It was a horrible event, something you always fear happening to you or one of your employees.”

Neither Clark nor Lyons knew Croom personally. Both said some of their officers did.

Clark talked about how an officer can find himself alone when he arrives first on the scene.

“Numbers are low in law enforcement right now,” Clark said. In a situation like that, you do answer a lot of calls one on one. Here in Neshoba County, we only have two officers working on a shift. Your backup is sometimes minutes away. Things unfold so quickly.”

Both Lyons and Clark said their departments train for potential threats regularly.

“We train on what to do in domestic situations like this regularly,” said Lyons. “This raises the level of alertness for officers to go into that situation. You have to have your head on a swivel and be aware of your situation.”

Clark talked about the stress that a domestic violence incident can place on an officer, even if it doesn’t end in a shooting.

“We have had two officer involved shootings here in Neshoba and you don’t realize the stress, even after you survive that incident, that is on your body and your mind,” Clark said. “You don’t realize the after affects that it causes.”

Mayor James A. Young said law enforcement officers should never be taken for granted.

“It is a painful reminder of what police officers have to deal with every day,” he said.

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