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SWFL officers cope with fear

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 18:46:02-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Fox 4 spoke with the loved ones of police officers, Friday, who say they are getting through the Dallas tragedy with support from fellow officers.

Saddened and shocked were some of the first emotions felt for one officer after last night's Dallas ambush. "I heard it first thing this morning from the news, my girlfriend heard it while she was working last night," said one man. "On duty."

His girlfriend is a sheriff's deputy. "We've been living together for eight years and she's been in law enforcement for the past give years," said the man who wished to not be identified.

He called his partner a tough girl. However, as tough as she is, he can't seem to shake the fear of her being targeted, as tensions seem to grow between police and the public. "My biggest fear is that she's going to be injured, hurt, killed," he said. "My only hope for her every night is to come home in one piece."

He's not alone. Fox 4 spoke with Matt Sellers, president of the Gulf Coast Police Union and says he knows the feeling all too well. "We're dealing with a culture of violence and lawlessness," he said.

Sellers tells Fox 4 agencies, such as the Fort Myers Police Department, offer support for those struggling with the Dallas tragedy. "They have an employee assistance program, EAP, that is a benefit that comes from the police department itself."

Although nothing can fully remove the anxiety that comes with wearing a badge, the unidentified man said having a support system keeps him and his loved one strong. "It just seems like we can lean on each other a little bit and that makes life a little bit easier."