Police officers are the most recognizable face of our government.
Of course we could argue that there are some very well known politicians that anyone would recognize out on the street. However, if it is not one of those few well known politicians, most go unnoticed.
Because police officers wear a distinctive uniform, the same cannot be said for them.
While the general public may not know who the officers are on their beat, they clearly recognize them by the uniforms they wear, the badge on their chest and the gun on their belt. Because of this easy recognition, police officers are under constant scrutiny.
(Photo: AP/The Press, Emily Zoladz)
Those that enter law enforcement usually do so because they feel a calling to a noble profession.
However, police work is not easy. During their career, a police officer will most likely see the best and the worst that humanity can offer. The best may come in the form of the delivery of a newborn baby. More often the police respond to the worst. Let us not forget the brave officers we lost during the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
It is very easy for anyone to second-guess an officer’s decision the day after it was made. The media does a great job of raking officers over the coals for a decision that they had to make in a split second during a stressful situation. When I was a police officer I walked in on an armed robbery in progress, I know firsthand that officers react to what they perceive at that moment.
Unfortunately, many officers are not lucky enough to walk away unscathed from a situation.
The FBI’s provides statistics through the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) about officers killed and assaulted. The most up to date statistics are from 2012, which includes both federal, state and local law enforcement. In 2012, 96 officers were killed and there were close to 55,000 assaults on officers.
You can find a police officer on duty all hours of the day, whether it is a weekday or a holiday. They do not stop working because of snow, rain or extreme heat. They answer any and all calls no matter how big or small. They frequently put their lives on the line to protect the innocent.
Many people forget that they are human. Like most people, they have families, friends and bills to pay. When they get cut or shot, they bleed.
Because of their unique and often extremely stressful line of work, police officers have higher rates of suicide, domestic violence and divorce. These are very unfortunate statistics.
So who takes care of the officers that so bravely go out to protect and serve us each and every day?
Peace Officer Ministries, Inc. (POM) is a law enforcement chaplaincy that serves those who protect and serve us. POM knows that law enforcement officers daily engage in difficult and dangerous work. They are exposed to very high risk physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. These officers need our support. Sometimes we too, the people they faithfully serve, unfortunately experience crises. Law enforcement chaplains help everyone, especially during difficult and dangerous times.
(Photo: AP/Mary Altaffer)
Because of the high incidents of suicide, domestic violence, divorce, line-of-duty deaths and assaults, POM also serves the families of law enforcement.
POM is a Christian law enforcement chaplaincy ministry that provides direct help during these times of trouble. During the first week of June, POM will hold a workshop at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. This workshop helps prepare those that seek to serve those who protect and serve us.
We all must also honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
May 15, 2014 is Peace Officer’s Memorial Day. The week surrounding this date is known as Police Week. This is a time that is specifically set aside to honor those officers that have been killed in the line of duty over the past year.
Many police officers, their families and the families of the slain officers will converge on Washington, D.C. to honor the fallen heroes. There will also be memorial services across the country to honor these officers. We should all take time out to join in to honor these officers and the sacrifices they made and continue to make on a daily basis.
Steven Ruffatto is a graduate of Boston University and Assistant Professor Of Criminal Justice at Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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