HARLINGEN — In an open letter yesterday to the men and women of the Harlingen Police Department, Chief Jeffry Adickes said his heart was heavy.

With Thursday night’s tragedy in Dallas, local police departments as well as departments across the United States expressed their concerns over the shootings of officers.

“This event not only has our state but our nation thinking about what we want to be as a country. We need to do some very strong self-examination and we need to be thinking about how hate has really impacted our country in a very violent way in the last few years,” Adickes said.

“Today, it is about law enforcement. Two weeks ago it was about the LGBT community, weeks before that it was about the black community, the Hispanic community and the color of your skin, before that it was about your religion. We as a country need to step back and think about how hate has really embedded itself in our nation and how we want to respond to it.”

Overnight Thursday, five Dallas police officers were killed and 12 others injured while policing a protest downtown.

The protests were in response to the shooting deaths of two black men. A Minnesota officer on Wednesday fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child. That shooting’s aftermath was live-streamed in a widely- shared Facebook video.

A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot in Louisiana after being pinned to the pavement by two white officers.

That, too, was captured on a cell phone video.

The deaths sparked enormous outrage in many communities. People united in a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas. But that turned deadly.

The very nature of community policing means police officers who are well trained and equipped have to be able to work in a safe environment.

To effectively serve this community, Adickes said they have to be a part of it.

“We have to feel safe standing next to men and women who are conducting a peaceful protest like the men and women in Dallas. When someone has hate in their heart, there is nothing we can do to stop them from hurting us,” Adickes said.

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