Army assists in shooting aftermath

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As The Salvation Army was holding an emergency disaster training conference at the Riverside Corps recently, a real-life emergency took place one street east of the Army’s facility when a Riverside police detective was fatally shot while responding to a loud-music complaint.

Detective Charles Douglas “Doug” Jacobs III, who had arrived when another police officer called for backup, was ambushed by an assailant and shot in the head. Jacobs, 30, was married and the father of a six-month-old daughter and a 10-year-old stepson.

visionNot long after the situation began, Major Russell Fritz, San Bernardino corps officer, and Lt. Sean Phillips, assistant corps officer of the Riverside Corps, were at the scene surveying the situation. Both had been attending the Army’s emergency disaster training conference when the police emergency began.

“When we arrived, we really didn’t know what was happening. We spoke to the (suspect’s) family and provided a blanket for the mother and a teddy bear for the little girl that SWAT brought out of the house so that she had something to cuddle with. However, we basically talked with the family and tried to bring a calmness to a chaotic situation,” said Phillips.

As daylight began turning to a chilled night, the Riverside Police Department requested The Salvation Army’s presence. In no time, the Riverside Corps was assisting the on-duty police officers and investigative personnel with hot coffee, water, food, snacks, and comforting words.

Assisting at a police shooting isn’t always the same as helping at a natural disaster. “In some ways it’s the same. The police officers are thankful that we’re there, and they appreciate what we’re doing for them. But, they are tense. They have just lost one of their own. I have learned that what I have to do is stay out of their way, and they’ll come to us if they need the help,” said Captain Guy Hawk of the Riverside Corps, who led The Salvation Army’s relief efforts. “I think we helped bring some calmness to the situation…the officers were appreciative (that we were there). The time that they were able to take a break and focus on other things was, I think, good for their morale.”

Rather than duplicate services, the Riverside Corps remained at the scene until the American Red Cross arrived. “We had been there for a while, and we could have stayed longer if needed,” said Hawk. “However, the Red Cross had pulled in and it works directly with the police in situations like this. Because we had the disaster conference in place, and we were down the street, we were able to take care of the need until the Red Cross arrived. Once their personnel arrived, we let them finish the job. We have found that if we work together, we can do a better job.”

When asked what it means to assist others in a time of need, Phillips said, “I receive satisfaction knowing that I’m able to do what I was called to do (as a Salvation Army officer). You also receive a blessing from seeing the smiles on people’s faces. To know that you are able to help others gives you a good feeling when you go home at night.”

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