UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Spartanburg County Sheriff visited Union County with a message to all law enforcement officers.
Sheriff Chuck Wright took the podium Wednesday afternoon and spoke about the tragedy that killed Deputy Austin Aldridge on June 21.
He said all law enforcement officers need to be on alert, with every call.
“It happens that fast,” said Sheriff Wright.
Deputy Aldridge was killed in the line of duty in June. He was shot responding to a domestic violence call.
“One of the neighbors had called and said the officer’s been shot and we couldn’t get him on the radio. I knew in my heart what was going on. I was just hoping for the best,” said Sheriff Wright.
Sheriff Wright was the second one on scene.
“I’m the same one that when his mama and daddy said, ‘Take care of my boy,’ I had to go tell them that their boy wasn’t here anymore,” he said.
Union County Sheriff Jeff Bailey said he never wants to have to deliver that kind of news.
“I don’t want to have to go through what Sheriff Wright went through. Okay? I want to educate you the best I can, just like he did his guys, but sometimes, we just can’t help what happens,” said Sheriff Bailey.
“Austin did absolutely nothing wrong and was killed. And that’s a possibility for every man and woman sitting in here that’s wearing a badge,” said Sheriff Wright.
Sheriff Wright said it’s important officers clear their minds of any distractions.
“When you’re going out to these calls, have your mind focused on the call at hand,” he said.
“That’s the most important thing, is the safety of the officer. So, that’s what I’m concerned about,” said Sheriff Bailey.
Both sheriffs stressed the importance of officers relying on one another.
“What I saw in our department, I saw the men and women who just care about one another, they all came together,” said Sheriff Wright.
“Teamwork and having unity and getting along. We’re all on the same team here,” said Sheriff Bailey.
Sheriff Wright said he prays no officer ever sees the loss of a brother or sister in blue.
“When I close my eyes, I still see Austin, and I’m going to tell you, it hurts like hell,” he said.
Sheriff Wright stressed the importance of officers not only supporting and taking care of one another, but also taking care of themselves.
He said through all the trauma they experience on the job, it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to ask for help.