BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Raleigh County Sheriff Jim Canaday says he was shot at, early in his career, but the fatal 2006 shooting of Beckley Police Department detective Chuck Smith made the threat of gun violence personal to him.

In recent years, a number of local officers have been shot in the line of duty. Canaday said on Monday, October 30, 2023, were forced to shoot suspects who drew their weapons first.

“Early in my career, when you had an officer involved shooting, or you had somebody who shot at the police, or it could be even any kind of shooting, that was a big news story,” he said. “But you know, nowadays, I think just what I’ve seen, it’s so prevalent, it doesn’t necessarily shock the conscience anymore.”

In June of last year, Nicholas County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Baker was shot and killed when serving a warrant. Nicholas County Sheriff’s Corporal Josh Ellison survived a bullet wound in the same incident.

This past June, West Virginia State Police Trooper Cory Maynard was shot and killed in Mingo County.

Canaday pointed out on-duty officers have been threatened with guns in other incidents.

He said it is difficult for law enforcement officers to identify one reason. Canaday said mental health, instant access to media reports from around the nation and the illegal use of firearms could play roles.

However, Canaday said he believes the underlying cause is a lack of personal responsibility towards others, including law enforcement officers.

“I think what we’ve seen, nationally, and culturally, is an assignment to blame,” he said. “You know, the personal responsibility is not there. {It’s} Well, I can do this, and then somebody will help me assign the blame on somebody else.’”

Canaday said he believes stricter consequences for crime and enforcing existing gun laws could help reduce the dangers police officers face.