BATON ROUGE, La. — Cities and parishes across Louisiana hosted community prayer rallies on Tuesday to ask God to protect local law enforcement in the wake of a number of fatal police shootings.
The events were the result of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proclamation of Sept. 14 being a statewide day of prayer for Louisiana police. According to reports, 83 officers have been killed in the line of duty just this year, with 10 being in Louisiana.
“I invite all Louisianians who choose to join in prayer to ask for&–;protection over our law enforcement men and women, to thank God for his many blessings and to seek a spiritual revival among the people of Louisiana,” Jindal, a Roman Catholic, wrote.
“I encourage all Louisianians, local officials, businesses, and religious leaders within the state to organize events celebrating the life of those who have sacrificed themselves while serving our communities, and to pray protection over those who ensure the continued safety of our citizens,” he said.
In Bossier Parish, several hundred people attended a “We’ve Got Your Back” rally, organized by Sheriff Julian Whittington.
“People come up to me all the time and tell you, ‘We love you. We’re praying for you. We support you. We believe in what you’re doing,’” he told local television station KTBS. “But I’m not sure officers on the street get that same message, and so a lot of people were saying, ‘We want to do something. What can we do?’”
Members of the Bossier Police Department recently attended the funeral of a slain police officer in Houston, who was killed while refueling his squad car. Reports state that when Bossier deputies had to stop for gas on the way to the funeral, they were comforted with the words, “Go ahead and fill up. We’ve got your back.”
In New Orleans, Antoine Barriere of the Household of Faith Family Worship Church hosted a prayer service in front of the city police department. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, police superintendent Michael Harrison and other law enforcement officers were among those in attendance.
“I think it’s important that we continue to pray for our police officers,” Barriere told reporters. “They have a very challenging job. They need our prayers, and we need to encourage them. We want to let them know we stand with them and pray that they come home safe.”
A prayer rally was also held on the steps of the Louisiana capitol building, which was attended by the governor, scores of law enforcement officers and pastors. Jacqueline LaValley stood near the governor clutching a photo of her son, the late Shreveport police officer Thomas LaValley, who was killed last month while responding to a call about a disturbance in the city.
“It’s an unfortunate time for our society when we have to issue a plea for prayer for the safety of law enforcement,” Grayson Police Chief Mitch Bratton declared, according to the Times-Picayune. “If we lose one officer, we’ve lost one too many.”
“Today, we even pray for those who are against us, that they may come to realize the sacrifice of law enforcement and join us in creating safe communities,” he said.