The D.C. area has seen a spike in law enforcement officers being injured and killed in the line of duty recently. In the wake of these incidents, the officers, their families and the police departments have received support both from within the law enforcement community and from the general public.
On Thursday, Virginia State Master Trooper Junius Walker was shot and killed on Interstate 85 while checking on a driver's welfare. A suspect was arrested after he exchanged gunfire with another trooper, police said.
And in the past two weeks, other officers in the region were injured on the job. They include D.C. police Officer Sean Hickman, who was struck in a hit-and-run incident Tuesday; Alexandria police Officer Peter Laboy, who was shot in the head during a traffic stop on Feb. 27; and a Fairfax County police officer who was injured in a head-on collision on Feb. 28.
When an officer is killed or injured on the job, his or her agency will work to ensure that the family gets financial assistance and that relatives and other officers can receive counseling, said Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
D.C. police union Chairman Kristopher Baumann said officers in Hickman's police district have been a "constant presence" at the hospital and that personnel from some agencies in Virginia have also checked on him.
"There's been an outpouring of support for the officer," he said.
Additionally, members of the public will show their support for law enforcement after officers are injured or killed. Schrad noted that the rise of social media has given concerned citizens many outlets to express their gratitude.
"It's actually very much appreciated," she said.
Some community members have taken a more hands-on approach to showing gratitude. After Laboy was shot, Alexandria resident Bud Jackson learned on Facebook that a friend had made brownies to take to the police department. Inspired by his friend, Jackson dropped off a catered lunch for 40 at the Alexandria Police Department's headquarters.
"I think any time a first responder gets hurt or killed in the line of duty, it reminds us in the community that they put their lives on the line for us," Jackson said.