Sheriffs talk safety after mass shootings

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Charleston, Chattanooga and Lafayette are three American cities healing after a gunman opened fire and killed innocent people.

The Mass Shooting Tracker reports there have been 204 mass shootings in the United States since the start of 2015. The database defines a mass shooting as an event where four or more people are shot.

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“It’s sad that it has come to that, but it has come to that,” Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher said.

From schools to movie theaters, it seems the violence has no boundaries.

“It makes me feel sad. A church is one place that you feel you should be able to go and feel safe,” Hatcher said.

As the violence spreads, law enforcement continues to advocate the importance of vigilance. They urge you to constantly be aware of your surroundings, know who is around you, and alert authorities if something is wrong.

“Don’t get tunnel vision. Don’t get focused on one thing,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said.

Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis said officers should focus their attention on identifying threats to the community. He said 90 percent of the crime is committed by 10 percent of people.

“We’re having to find that 10 percent of the population and go after them, and teach them,” Davis said.

Davis, one of the youngest sheriffs in the state, said it is necessary to teach those people that mass violence is not the answer and encourage dialogue.

“They could go see a doctor. They could talk to a psychiatrist. They could come talk to law enforcement. Talk to pastors or councilors,” he said.

In Columbus County Sheriff Hatcher says he has prompted his deputies to be present throughout the community.

“Be seen at churches just like at the basketball gymnasium,” Hatcher said. “I want people to feel like wherever they are people are checking in on them.”

Sheriff Ingram also has his deputies checking in on all the added law enforcement and state officials in Brunswick County. The NC Sheriff’s Association 2015 Annual Training Conference is going on through Wednesday, and Ingram said he’s increased patrols throughout the area.

“You can plan for as much as much as possible, but there are still things that can happen. I am confident in the plan we put together,” he said. “I feel good about the people we have in place to deal with whatever may happen.”

In Pamlico County Sheriff Davis says since he took over in December he has also increased patrols to maintain the community’s safety.

“We’ve had to really step up within our county buildings, around churches and grocery stores just because we don’t know what people are thinking this day-in-age,” he said.