LONOKE, Ark. – In light of recent violence against police officers across the county, several police departments in the Natural State have suspended their ride-along programs.
The Lonoke Police Department offered the program to teens and adults to give them a front row seat to a day in the life of an officer.
“The average citizen doesn’t know what we go through and what we see,” said Officer Cortney Kocourek. “It’s tough, mentally, physically and emotionally, and if you let it get to you, it can break you down really easily.”
Officer Kocourek said the recent police shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas only make it more difficult to stay strong.
“Now it’s just getting to be the norm with police officers getting shot,” he said. “It’s actually really scary.”
That’s why the department has suspended the program until further notice.
“It’s bad enough having to come in and worry about ourselves,” said Officer Kocourek. “But if we have a citizen sitting beside us, we have to make sure they’re safe at all times.”
Some police departments, like Austin, have followed suit while many other ride-along programs are still up and running.
“You don’t know what people are going to do,” Officer Kocourek said. “It’s hard to trust just your average citizen out here on the side of the road.”
Officer Kocourek said he would be ignorant to think similar violence couldn’t happen in Lonoke.
“It’s a big concern,” he said. “I even get nervous coming to work. I just always make sure to tell my wife and kids that I love them and that hopefully I’ll be back home.”
Officer Kocourek said one of the solutions to violence is community policing. The department will soon host a community BBQ to get to know its citizens on more of a personal level.