Early Police Chief David Mercer said he doesn’t know Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
    Mercer said he can’t imagine what Brown must be feeling following Thursday night’s sniper attack in downtown Dallas that left five officers dead — four of them Brown’s, and one of them an officer with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority.
    “You feel a connection to officers in other cities and states,” Mercer said. “That would just be devastating. To be a chief and know you lost five guys and six more shot in the same incident — that would just make you sick.”
    Mercer, like other law enforcement officers in Brown County, wore a badge with a black stripe across its center as a show of mourning and support. Flags at Early City Hall, the Law Enforcement Center and other locations flew at half staff.
    When asked what message he would have for Brown, Mercer replied, “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with you, and second, anything we’ve got to offer, we’re here. Every man in my department would rotate out to help you if they could.”
    That could be said for “every man and woman in every department around,” Mercer said.
    Mercer and other law enforcement leaders said they told their officers Friday morning to be extra careful. “I got word to everyone this morning to obviously be very diligent in what they do, and officer safety, knowing that this could trigger other attacks,” Mercer said.
    He said he was surprised at the sniper attack, adding Texas “has enjoyed the fact that we haven’t had the bad confrontations like the upper states have.”
    “I haven’t lost an officer,” Mercer said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to have one of your men or women killed in the line of duty.”
    Mercer said citizens have offered words of encouragement and sent food to the department.
    Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols, also wearing a badge with a black stripe as he began his fourth day on the job, reflected on the sniper attack.
    “Obviously a horrible tragedy and one that tears at the basic fabric of our society,” Nichols said. “To have people target law enforcement — it’s happened before, but not to this scale. It gives us all reason to pause about where society is headed. We also know that crime and criminals don’t know boundaries.”
    Nichols said it doesn’t matter what color the uniform is. “It’s an attack on our profession. It’s an attack on the guardians of our community,” Nichols said.
    He said if the shooter or shooters were angered by recent officer-involved shootings in which black men were killed, “there is no response … no justification anyone can make to what happened (Thursday) night.”
    Police want to hold themselves and each other accountable if they make mistakes, but the public needs to wait for investigations to be completed before rushing to judgment, Nichols said. “Are mistakes being made across the country? Yes. I wish the public, as a whole, would pause, take a breath when these shootings take place.
    “Let an investigation take place and not rush to judgment.”
    Some media outlets have fueled the “false narrative” after some of the shootings, Nichols said.
    Black stripes on the badges “show mourning and respect from our fellow officers — a small sign to show we stand wth these officers and are mourning for their loss,” Nichols said.
    Following Thursday night’s sniper attack, “there will be no rioting in the streets by police officers,” Nichols said. Police officers will instead put on their uniforms and badges with the black stripes and and go to work, he said.
    Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Vance Hill said the sniper attack was “horrible. It’s sad, disheartening, frustrating. It has nothing to do with gun control. It has to do with the morals of people who do not care about society. It saddens me that that’s what society has come to.
     “Absolutely we take it personal. Unfortunately it’s becoming more and more common. We’ve told our deputies to use extreme caution and try to watch their own backs as best they can. We as peace officers strap on that badge and gun every day and come to work, and you never are sure at the end of the shift if you’re going to see your family or not.”
    Hill, who is unopposed in November’s election for sheriff, said fighting with police officers on the side of the road “is not the way to prove your innocence. That’s what the courtroom is for.”
    The sniper attack means officers “have to be concerned about the cowardly acts of snipers (and) ambushes,” Hill said. “To be there for the benefit of the community and be be assassinated by a sniper — a cowardly sniper …”
    Sheriff George Caldwell said he feels “sadness that we’ve come to the point in this country that people feel like they have to murder innocent people for perceived injustice.”