Police officers constantly undergo training to keep them alert and ready for anything they encounter. Still, the shooting death of Lee County Sheriff Harold Presley is a sober reminder of just how quickly a routine call can turn deadly.
"You go to work with mental preparation not am I going to get into a confrontation but when am I going to get into a confrontation, that way you're mentally prepared for it," Gulfport Officer Ben Smith said.
Fellow officer Damon McDaniel said, " It's a reality check and you start thinking about the training that you go through and what you're doing' and what you could do better on the street. I mean it's a tragedy and you hate to hear that sort of thing happen."
Flags were at half staff at the Gulfport Police Department in memory of the Lee County Sheriff on Friday. For Chief Wayne Payne, Presley's death brings back memories of when he was shot in June, 1978 while answering a call at a bank.
"When I got to the bank, the suspect was there and pulled out a gun and shot me and my partner," Chief Payne said. "Actually, we had two guys backing us up, [and they] returned fire and took the assailant down."
Fortunately, Payne's wound was minor, but he says it was a close enough call that he doesn't forget.
"As law enforcement officers, we know that there's that possibility that when we leave our homes we may not return, and we don't think about it all the time but certainly the thought is there."
It's a thought of danger that law enforcers say is never far from their minds as they try to live up to their duty to serve and protect.