Delaware County’s sheriff says that collaboration between law enforcement and the community is the key to preventing future tragedies like the early-morning massacre Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Sheriff Russell Martin said Tuesday that “law enforcement executives” have been anticipating acts of terrorism in the United States for a while and have been trying to prepare for such events.
“Our training in recent years has been around this reality,” Martin said. “We are concerned about this becoming the new normal. When bullets start flying, it’s going to be that the local police are the first responders.”
This weekend, the city of Columbus plans to celebrate a Pride festival on Friday and a Pride parade on Saturday celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, according to the Associated Press.
The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier this week that Columbus police would be stepping up security in light of the shooting in Orlando that left 49 dead and wounded more than 50 others — as well as the Los Angeles arrest of an Indiana man who brought weapons and 15 pounds of explosives to a gay pride parade there.
Martin and Delaware Police Capt. Adam Moore said their departments have not been asked to assist in the Columbus event but both departments would gladly assist Columbus police.
“There’s been no formal request,” Martin said. “As always, we stand ready to help our regional partners.”
According to the Associated Press, the man in Los Angeles was brought to police’s attention by a caller who reported a suspicious person. Martin and his head of community and media relations, Tracy Whited, said this kind of call is crucial.
Martin said residents who observe suspicious activity should contact police and these types of calls can save lives.
“In American policing, the local police is the community and the community is part of the local police,” Martin said. “If we are going to have an impact [on crime], it’s going to take collaborative effort between police and the community.”
President Obama visited Orlando Thursday. He said that a military campaign against terrorism abroad won’t be enough to prevent “lone wolf” attacks like Sunday’s nightclub shooting in Orlando, as he offered condolences and support to families of the victims.
“We’re going to have to do more to prevent these kinds of events from occurring. It’s going to take more than just our military,” Obama said, an apparent reference to proposals for stricter gun-control laws. That was after he laid flowers at a makeshift memorial during an afternoon visit to the grieving city.
“We can’t wipe away hatred and evil from every heart in the world. But we can stop some tragedies. We can save some lives,” Obama said.
More information about the Columbus Pride festival and parade can be found at www.columbuspride.org/events.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG. The Associated Press contributed to this report.