Three years ago, on an early October day, while groundbreakings were taking place across the city for three new county buildings, Pine Bluff police Detective Kevin Collins' life came to an end, fatally shot while he was attempting to investigate a crime.
Just a few days ago, on the anniversary of Collins' death, while the city of Pine Bluff was celebrating a soft opening of a public building that will carry Collins' name, another police officer came close to suffering the same fate.
At an apartment complex on Middle Warren Road, gunfire erupted, a bullet hitting a patrol unit occupied by an officer. The officer, although not struck by the bullet, was apparently injured slightly by the splatter of the projectile as it slammed into the glass and metal of the vehicle.
The news traveled fast. Shots had been fired. The code used was an alert that an officer was in trouble. Suddenly, there was no air in the room as the wait was endured to find out what had happened.
Surely, not another officer would succumb to gunfire, please not that, not on the anniversary of another officer being shot and killed in the line of duty.
Thankfully, there was the sigh of relief. The news came back that the officer had not been hit by the gunfire. We don't know how close that story was to being horrific. There were numerous bullets fired. The police markers, showing where shell casings were found, were many. Any one of them could have been lethal to someone. And the bullet or bullets that hit the vehicle, those could have been inches but no more than a few feet from hitting the officer inside.
The point is that one horror is not a respecter of another. Because we have endured the horrible episode of losing one officer does not mean that a bullet will be any less likely to strike another officer today or tomorrow. Their jobs, in the end, have been and will always be dangerous, sometimes fatally so.
Our lives in so many ways are livable because instead of ducking for cover at the sound of gunfire, these folks head toward the trouble. You have our undying respect and appreciation.