COVINGTON, Ga. - Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight took a moment during Tuesday night's Covington City Council meeting to share some thoughts and ask for continued prayer for Covington Police Officer Matt Cooper. Cooper was injured in an officer-involved shooting incident Monday afternoon near the Walmart in Covington.
"Matt Cooper and his fellow first responders are servants, protectors and a member of the City of Covington family and we should be thanking them for their service and on our knees praying for their safety every single day.," Knight said.
Local government employees have to have a passion for serving others, and Knight said public safety officials in the city are no different.
"When you sign up for a job in local government, you have to be excited about serving others or you are going to be very unhappy with your career choice," she said. "For most of us, that means coming to work and helping someone pay their utility bill, fix a piece of road, a fallen electrical wire or broken pipe. Most of us don’t leave our families in the morning and go to work with the very real possibility that we may not come home to them.
"As a city employee, we consider ourselves to be part of the City family. We know each other and each other’s families. We do lunch and dinner together, visit in each other’s homes and even watch each other’s children if needed. That also means when one is hurt we are all hurt. This is a special place to work and I don’t think anyone can truly understand how close we actually are.
"Yesterday was, for most of us, one of the hardest if not the hardest days we have had to endure as a city employee. A little bit of our joy is gone as we wrap our heads around how our fellow employee is fighting for his life after trying to protect those in our community. We have found ourselves pausing during the day to talk about Matt, pray for Matt and his family and our first responders."
Knight said the right to protection is not something that should be taken lightly.
"We take it as a right to have the level of protection our first responders afford us, but we should consider it as a privilege," she said. "It is a privilege and an honor to have someone lay their life on the line every single day for a stranger. But we have officers that do it. The craziest part to me is that we have these angels in blue watching out for us and to a lot of people it is just a guy in a silver car; there is no personal connection with them. That officer is a son or daughter, probably a husband or wife and a father or mother. They are so much more than a protector.
"Police officers and other public safety employees protect every single day and we take it for granted, which is a shame. The incident (Monday) involving Officer Cooper shows us just how real the danger our officers face every day is. It is truly a miracle he is alive."
Knight asked the community to continue to pray for Cooper, his family, police and other public safety personnel. She also asked the community to remember to be thankful for their service.
"So please, take a minute next time you see an officer and introduce yourself and thank them for laying their life on the line for you," she said. "Then stop for a second and think about how fortunate we are to have officers risk their lives for the safety of people they don’t know. It is a privilege."