Valley law enforcement safety concerns in Dallas aftermath

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Dallas attack is heavy on the minds of many here in the Central Valley.

Fresno police officers will be doubling up during nighttime shifts this weekend for safety reasons. And law enforcement all over the Valley have similar concerns.

As the peaceful Dallas Black Lives Matter rally devolved into chaos and misery, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer could almost picture his own officers.

"It hurts you as a police chief to know that officers are out there day in and day out trying to keep our citizens safe, just like those Dallas officers were there last night trying to protect the rights of protesters, and then to be turned upon by those cowards who fired upon them," Dyer said. "It makes you not only wonder where society has gone but what the impact might be on Fresno."

Fresno has seen its share of police protests -- most recently in light of officers shooting and killing 19-year-old Dylan Noble two weeks ago. But even as that crowd blocked Shields Ave., violence never erupted, and it rarely does.

"We have a much different crowd in Fresno," Chief Dyer said. "I think we most of the protests we've seen have been very peaceful."

But both Dyer and Fresno County sheriff Margaret Mims worry the atmosphere now is as dangerous as it's ever been.

Social media posts have announced a Black Lives Matter protest at Blackstone and Shaw Saturday -- even planning to shut down Shaw Ave. Both agencies are monitoring to see if it escalates.

Part of the solution may be to heal the rift between law enforcement and people who feel disenfranchised. Mims says it requires understanding on both sides.

"We go out and we risk our lives," the sheriff said. "We're willing to do that and even after what happened in Dallas, we're still willing to do that. But it doesn't diminish the fact that we are still responsible for developing relationships in our communities."

In the meantime, police have a plan in place to handle this weekend's protest and the sheriff has told her deputies to be extra vigilant.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.