Law officers’ service to area is appreciated

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Officer down.” It’s something no law enforcement department ever wants to hear.

But this past Friday, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department had to respond to a call for help from one of its own. Around 8 p.m., Investigator Byron Catchings was shot while driving his unmarked patrol car on Union Street.

Thank goodness, Deputy Catchings has been treated and released, but he went home from the hospital with a bullet lodged in his abdomen to remind him of the fateful night’s events. The injury was significant enough that he was taken to University Medical Center in Jackson for treatment.

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Law officers were quickly able to find and arrest a suspect in the shooting. Mario Black, 28, of 820 Union St., has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of a firearm by a felon and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

Details of the incident are sketchy, pending an investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which handles cases when a law officer is injured or killed in the line of duty.

Friday night’s incident is the first time a local law officer has been injured in the line of duty in around two decades. We are lucky such events are rare in our area.

Catchings is a popular officer, who teaches DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) classes in local schools. He is married with three children and is active in his church.

Friday night’s incident shows us the dangers that officers must face in their routine duties protecting us all. A few inches’ difference in the bullet’s path and things wouldn’t have turned out so well.

Deputy Catchings went home to his family and will heal and no doubt go back to work. We are lucky to have men and women like him patrolling the streets of our community and watching out for us.