MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. — Here at home and nationwide, violence against officers continues to rise. In 2021, 12 Alabama officers died in the line of duty which is seven more than the year before.

The latest officer-involved shooting in North Alabama happened in Priceville this week. Priceville Police Chief Rick Williams was shot while responding to a disturbance call Monday.

While it’s only one incident, officials with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said it reflects a larger problem.

Just last year, the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty by firearms or during traffic incidents increased by 38%. That’s according to the Preliminary 2021 Fatalities Report by the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

“We keep up with what goes on nationally and we understand there’s been an uptick in law enforcement-related injuries on the job, deaths as well,” said Mike Swafford, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office’s public information officer.

The harrowing statistic shows the dangers faced by law enforcement every day. Swafford says these incidents don’t happen in Morgan County often.

“The threat is always there, we’re aware of that, but to physically have it happen and to see it happen and to be part of it as it happens, there will probably be some effects from this going forward,” he adds.

Swafford referenced effects from Priceville’s very own police chief being shot on the job Monday afternoon. Chief Rick Williams’ injuries were non-life-threatening and he has since returned from the hospital, but it all happened during a disturbance call.

“It’s just a reminder of the dangers of the job,” said Swafford. “This was a simple call, what some people would call a routine call, that wasn’t. It’s just a reminder of what can go wrong.”

Swafford says law enforcement continues to be targeted right now: “We have to change that because we don’t want to live in a world where we don’t have law enforcement to respond to the troubles that we have.”

Following Monday’s officer-involved shooting, residents of Priceville were reaching out and offering help and assistance. Swafford says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support for the department, not just in a time of crisis, but every day.