Selma shows respect, urges caution in response to shootingPublished 9:19pm Friday, December 14, 2012
When President Barack Obama addressed the nation after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday in Newtown, Conn., he issued a proclamation honoring the victims, a proclamation that touches cities all across the nation, including Selma.
In his address from the White House he ordered all United States flags outside the White House, federal buildings, military posts, naval stations, and those at public buildings upon public grounds to be flown at half-staff until sunset Tuesday, throughout the United States and it’s territories and possessions.
In response to his order, the Selma Fire Department arrived outside of city hall at Friday afternoon to lower the flag.
“We are lowering the flag today at half mast because of the tragedy in Connecticut,” Selma Fire Department Capt. Aeneas Pettway said. “The president of the United States ordered all flags in public buildings to be lowered at half mast until Tuesday.”
Pettway explained the significance of the American flag and how lowering it to half-staff shows is a sign of respect.
“I’m an old military guy so it’s the old tradition and pride of being American and living in America. The flag is a symbol of our freedom so we take it very seriously. A lot of people don’t see it that way, but we take it very seriously,” Pettway said.
“This shows the significance of what happened today,” Firefighter Ken Boair said. “I mean, they were all kids … especially in a small town where everybody knows everybody and something like that happens.”
Firefighter Daniel Brewton was the man who lowered the flag, and said it was his first time to be tasked with the job — an important job he said he wouldn’t soon forget.
Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said law enforcement across the nation should stay vigilant.
“The key for all of us in law enforcement around the country is we need to stay vigilant and report things as quickly as possible,” Riley said. “As a parent it’s a scary feeling. We always hope that a place of safety is our schools and places of worship and for something like this to happen is especially terrible.”
Riley said it’s important for law enforcement to be prepared for whatever threats may come.
“It just seems like law enforcement we are up against so much — the threats are coming in from everywhere. We always have to be prepared,” Riley said. “One thing we always look at is response — that is the key. Once you get the call you have to get people there as fast as possible and evaluate exactly what is going on. Its not just the police response, the schools [also] have to have a plan.”
Some area schools already have plans for lockdown in place.
“We’ll always be conscious of people coming on campus that looks suspicious,” Don Willingham, Dallas County assistant superintendent said. “We have our lockdown procedures that we practice as a policy twice a year, once each semester.”
Willingham said the while the practice drills are unannounced, and they have steps for the safeguard in place, “some times you just can’t prevent something.”