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Student reaction: Another officer down

Jaydin Webb & Cody Baldridge, Editor in chief

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Officer Watts covers his badge out of respect

 

Two Colorado police officers, shot in the line of duty in just one month. 9 News reported that Wednesday night, just before 7 p.m., an Adams County sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed while responding to an assault-in-progress call. Law enforcement continues the manhunt for two suspects. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says that the suspects fled after deputies arrived in the 8700 block of Dawson Street on the southern edge of Thornton.

 

One month ago, one officer was killed and four others were injured when police responded to a disturbance in Highlands Ranch, and a gunman opened fire. Two civilians also sustained non-life threatening injuries. The suspect was shot and killed during the encounter.

 

The incidents have shocked the community and our very own School Resource Officer, Orion Watts with the Englewood police department, “cops show up and are ambushed.” He is struggling with the loss and wearing the shroud on his badge as a show of solidarity. Watts says he has been on hundreds of disturbance calls during his ten years on the force, “We go on disturbance calls, probably ten per shift, most can be very routine calls.” But he says each one is unique and each one can be a life changer. One similar call did change his life. His outlook on disturbance and domestic violence calls changed three years ago.

 

March 14, 2014, 8:12pm  “I was dispatched to a call for domestic violence. There was a man and a woman at an apartment complex. When I got out of a car, he was screaming and yelling at her. She left, he walked to his own apartment and kicked the door. We go to the apartment to make sure everyone was ok. It was myself and the Sergeant. While on the way, we hear a tone alert. That means everyone on alert. It was a call to be on the lookout for a man with a gun. The guy who kicked in his own door had a pistol. His neighbor came out. The suspect pointed the pistol at the neighbor. The neighbor called the police. The guy with a pistol walked out to Belleview and Broadway with a pistol, turned around and went back to his apartment. He got kicked out of a house party earlier because he was high on cocaine. He had gone back to his apartment to grab his AR-15 (the same gun used in the Aurora Theater shooting). The police were set up at the apartment. I was sitting there listening, with our guns drawn. I hear a long gun wracking. I tell my Sergeant, “I think I hear a gun.” I backed up away from the door, the door flew open and the man came out with the AR-15 pointed at my face. My first thought was I’m going to die, my child will grow up without a father. I had my gun up and shot 6 times, my Sergent shot 7 times. He was hit, but he went back into his apartment. We had two choices, leave him alone, or go get him knowing there may be neighbors in danger. We kicked in the door, he dropped the gun. We couldn’t see him, he had fallen behind a couch. We yelled, ‘show me your hands’. We took him into custody. But we saved his life by giving him medical attention.

 

Officer Watts says the Englewood police department has very strict rules when answering domestic calls,  “Englewood has been on the forefront, we always show up in pairs, even if it is something like an alarm in a house, there is always more than one person going”

“We will always have two people go on a disturbance call. It’s not just us, we want to make sure everyone else including suspects are safe as well.”

 

As more of these incidents happen, Watts has never thought of switching careers, “Absolutely not, I like to have interactions, being here (talking to students), I like to have students challenge their own beliefs. I don’t want you to follow my beliefs, I want you to see both sides, not just what you’ve heard on the news, but that there are both sides. What is great about the United States is we are allowed to express our opinions. Your experiences dictate what you think. My experiences dictate what I think.”

 

He also knows high school students have experiences that dictate their thoughts on police and brutality, “Society has done you guys a disservice. Social media is very negative, bashing everyone else. Cops are bad, everyone is bad, everything is a cover-up.”  Englewood students have a different view. “It affects our whole society,” McKenna Bone (11) said. “Our society now is numb to these situations, we are really used to seeing it.” Becky Nickerson (11) said.

 

“We see so many videos on YouTube about police brutality. The media shows it a lot. People are afraid. I’m afraid they are going to kill me. They have a gun and I don’t,” Megan Trail (11) said, “They believe they have full authority and we don’t. I feel vulnerable.” Students aren’t ready to completely trust any authority figure and incidents like the shooting make it even harder, “Police brutality is a real thing, there are times when police use their authority. When people think about that, they think all police officers abuse their power.  A lot of police officers abuse their power and are racist.” Kiko Abdelsaied (11) said.

 

Still, there is a lot of empathy, “I feel bad for the family, he was so young, but he was doing his job,” Trail said. “If you choose to be a police officer or be a member of the military, you have to accept that you are a shield, it is part of your duty, it’s his decision to enter that field,” Abdelsaied said. Many students believe that having Officer Watts at the high school not only makes them feel safe but offers an extra peace of mind and extra protection, “We are spending a lot of time with Watts and he makes police feel safe.”

 

“My husband is a police officer. I think Officer Watts has a difficult job. His main job is to keep kids safe and it’s a hard concept for kids to understand, of course, he wants students to like him, but he’s all about safety,” Counselor Mary Abbott said.  “I heard about the shooting. It is horrible for his family,” Chris Apodaca (9) said.   

Officer Watts walks through his story with students in the wake of a tragic shooting

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1 Comment

One Response to “Student reaction: Another officer down”

  1. Anastasia Dameron on January 25th, 2018 5:46 pm

    I just graduated from Englewood last year and I love Officer Watts. Having him there was an extra peace of mind and sense of safety. He also actually cares about all the kids. I remember he would stop me in the halls just to ask how i was going. I will forever be greatful for him and his service in Englewood.

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Student reaction: Another officer down