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Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott spoke Wednesday about Master Deputy Sheila Aull Wednesday, one year after she was shot and wounded in the line of duty.
“She made the decision all our deputies make: she was going to do her job. Her training saved her life and the lives of other deputies,” he said of Aull.
Lott spoke to media Wednesday to discuss a trend of increasing violence against law enforcement officers.
Lott said that in 2013 alone, 69 Richland County deputies were assaulted in 63 separate incidents and that 43 bullets were fired at 17 deputies. He spoke of the memorials at department headquarters that honor six deputies killed on the job in the past, and he and Aull displayed the bulletproof vest that saved her life, with the mark of the bullet that struck her still clearly visible.
“We take for granted what these deputies go through every day when they go to work,” Lott said. “Sheila had no idea that day was going to be different than any other day. In an instant, it all changed.”
Lott said that in his 39 years of law enforcement, this is the most violence he has ever seen toward law enforcement officers. He said neither the department nor the residents of Richland County will tolerate this behavior.
“We have too many people who think guns solve everything. I don’t think our young people are being taught respect for authority and law enforcement,” Lott said.
Aull said her training, as well as her equipment, helped keep her alive a year ago.
“You get in your mindset. You don’t even realize you’re using your training until that moment happens. Certainly things could have turned out differently if the training had not been provided for us,” she said.
Lott said the training for every deputy includes professionalism, ‘verbal judo,’ self-defense, ground fighting, active shooter tactics and use of force. A closer look at that training can be here.
Lott said he is thankful Sheila Aull’s name did not have to be added to the memorial but said he knows he must continue to make sure deputies are prepared mentally and physically to deal with any threat that presents itself.