“Just devastating:” Oak Creek police chief, who experienced his own tragedy, discusses shooting in Dallas

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OAK CREEK -- The sniper attack that left five police officers dead in Dallas Thursday, July 7th is affecting law enforcement officials across the country -- including here in southeastern Wisconsin. Several local police chiefs spoke out on Friday, July 8th -- including John Edwards, chief of the Oak Creek Police Department.

Chief Edwards knows firsthand what it is like to have members from his own law enforcement family involved in a mass shooting. It happened back in 2012 at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

In honor of Sikh Temple victims

But the situation in Oak Creek differs from what happened in Dallas on Thursday night because in Dallas, officers were targeted.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards

"It was just devastating watching that," Edwards said.

Five officers were killed when a sniper opened fire during what was a peaceful protest over back-to-back killings of African-American men by police officers in Louisiana (Alton Sterling) and Minnesota (Philando Castile).

"It's obvious something like this has an effect on everybody in law enforcement. Doesn`t matter how far away you are," Edwards said. "A lot of people are talking about it, some anger. People who are angry about how things transpired and sometimes it's best to just get that anger out and talk about it."

Dallas sniper attack

The suspect in the Dallas ambush was eventually killed by a police robot carrying a bomb.

Prior to that, he told police negotiators that he was upset about recent police shootings, that he wanted to kill white people -- especially white officers -- and that he acted alone.

Dallas sniper attack

"That`s becoming more of a reality we have to deal with and look it. And it`s a very hard one to talk to people about because how do you combat that? When someone is just waiting for you and you don't know where," Edwards said.

Edwards said after mass shootings like that at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in August of 2012 they had to make some changes regarding training. The same is true now.

Oak Creek Police Department

"Now we find they`re looking for the strong. They`re going after the sheep dogs basically. And that's a whole different dynamic that we`re going to have to look at," Edwards said.

Edwards said he hopes that change doesn't just happen among law enforcement.

"One of the things it brings to the forefront is we still need to come to the table and talk about the issues that are out there," Edwards said.

Dallas sniper attack

Edwards and many of his officers wore bands around their badges Friday as a show of support for the officers in Dallas.

Flags outside the Oak Creek Police Department were at half staff following this tragedy.

Dallas sniper attack