When the shooting of an alleged drug dealer in a stolen SUV that is ramming police cars and driving at officers sparks a near riot, as it did Sunday evening, something is drastically wrong.
And it's not with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
The 30, and perhaps up to 50, officers who responded to the rock-and-bottle-throwing crowd at the Cherry Tree Crossing housing project Sunday showed unbelievable restraint. The crowd's insults and projectiles were returned by the deputies with stoicism and professionalism and a patience the crowd neither deserved nor perhaps expected. Despite the fact that the bottles and rocks endangered the officers.
Thank the heavens none of them was hurt.
According to Sheriff Ronnie Strength, video evidence will show that the stolen SUV believed to be toting drugs and weapons was sandwiched by two patrol cars before the officer in front exited his vehicle. The SUV drove backward into the other patrol car, endangering the officer there, then drove at the officer in front, who fired through the car's windshield and, when the car drove at him, through the passenger window as he jumped to avoid being hit. Suspect Justin Leonard Elmore, 23 was gravely wounded.
Instead of thanking the officers for cleaning up the streets and making things safer in the housing project, or expressing concern for the officers' well-being, an angry crowd of 200 or more confronted officers and tried to injure them for their trouble.
Something is seriously wrong.
If some folks think it's OK to run drugs or guns in stolen cars up and down the streets, that's their problem. The rest of us aren't going to put up with it. And rather than hurling rocks and brickbats at the Richmond County deputies for doing a dangerous job and handling themselves with dignity under duress, we should all be thanking Sheriff Strength's men and women today.
This knee-jerk reaction that says police are always wrong and every ne'er-do-well who runs afoul of them is an innocent who's had his civil rights violated just won't play anymore. And it's going to create an unlivable city if it's allowed to continue.
You can't say "knee-jerk" without saying "jerk." And there were some big-time jerks fighting against law and order Sunday evening in Augusta.
We stand with the men and women who are risking their health, safety and lives trying to take back the night and clean up the streets and protect our children from the destructive pollution of illegal narcotics and guns.
Where do you stand?