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Grand Prairie officials call for ‘prayers with legs’ in aftermath of sniper shootings in Dallas

July 12th, 2016 / By: Norm Miller & Tammi Reed Ledbetter / comments

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas—With DFW Metroplex citizens still stunned and afraid by the July 7 sniper shootings of Dallas police officers, Grand Prairie city officials met with local citizens at the Grand Prairie Police and Fire Department headquarters July 11.

The 45-minute meeting highlighted officials’ commitment to public safety  in the Dallas suburb and an appeal to pray for the fallen and their families, as well as for current public servants.

Interrupted several times with cheers, applause and shouts of “Amen” during his remarks, Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye cited the city’s mayor Ron Jensen, who recently said, “Yes, we need prayers. But we need prayers with legs. We need prayers, but we need actions to accompany our prayers.”

“I would ask you for peaceful, thoughtful actions to accompany your prayers,” Dye said.

“It has come to the point that we cannot communicate respectfully without violence. We fully acknowledge that we as public servants should be held accountable. But we also don’t understand why, when officers across the country may make a mistake, why all of us are stereotyped as bad or evil.”

Dye recounted the response of Dallas police officers last Friday night who “when the shooting started, the officers ran to the threat to protect those who were protesting and demonstrating. And I think that sums it up.”

Appealing for the community’s and the media’s help, Dye said, “We need to get the message out on what we really do all day long, which is almost entirely helping people and problem solving.”

“It’s time for society to be more vocal about how you feel about your police officers and how we work together to solve differences, solve problems, and to be leaders in mutual respect, and mutual respectful communication,” Dye said.

“You see, as police officers, we cannot accomplish that alone. And what I’m asking you to do is to help us sustain this change toward more civility, more honor and more support for your police officers. And all we ask is that, when you see us, tell us how much you appreciate us because that goes a long way in our professional lives after dealing with negativity.”

Dye invited the crowd to attend Grand Prarie’s citizen police academy and to become more informed about ways to collaborate with others to increase community safety.

“It’s just a shame that the world has gotten to the point where police officers are targets,” Dye continued. “And folks, it’s true what we say: we are the thin blue line, as we’re proud to be the thin blue line. But to be that thin blue line and prevent chaos in this community and in this nation, we must work together. That’s what makes America great because we do respect our police officers, and our police officers should respect our community members.”

Dye said that when an error is made on either side of the thin blue line, “we want to hold each other accountable. And we will get better.”

Saying he is proud of his officers’ character, their level of training, and level of equipment, Dye also noted gratitude for the “salary and benefits provided by the city leaders, so we can attract and pay the best officers. We are truly blessed in our city.”

Amid swelling applause, Dye praised the city’s diversity and said, “We’re not perfect as a city, but we’ve got it right. We’ve got it right when it comes to not being divisive, but being inclusive and working together.”

Dye thanked those attending the meeting for “showing all of our police officers and civilian police how much you love them and how much you care about them. I would ask that during this difficult week, when many funerals are laying many heroes to rest, that we remember all those families of the fallen because folks it’s not just about this week, it’s about moving forward having lost that family member, that loved one serving in our community. Let’s remember those heroes. Let’s say an extra prayer.”

Mayor Jensen addressed the crowd, saying: “Many of us are pray-ers. We grew up praying. My dad is a Baptist minister, and we prayed. And prayers with legs—that’s beautiful. We certainly need to lift up those who have fallen and their families,”

“But I’m concerned about us, right here, this group. We need to pray for each other. Yourself. We need to pray tonight because you don’t want your heart to get hardened over this fiasco.

Grand Prairie’s volunteer police chaplain Emil Balliet closed the meeting in prayer. Citizens milled around for another 30 minutes sharing quiet moments together, hugging and thanking police officers, and offering each other reassurances of support.