A Christmas Wish for Newtown and AmericaThe active shooter at Sandy Hook elementary school tore holes in so many people’s lives on Friday, December 14, 2012.  Nothing can be done to change what has already occurred, but viewing this from the eyes of a law enforcement officer; I have a few Christmas wishes for the future.

The first one is that the prayers of so many in the community and across the country are heard to bring peace, comfort and healing to those families who lost loved ones, the law enforcement officers, first responders, dispatchers and others who responded to the scene.  They will all need it.

My next wish is that rather than performing the usual partisan knee jerk reactions to blame guns, ban guns and other ill- conceived policies, politicians will take the time to speak with law enforcement, the mental health community and those who live with a family member struggling with mental illness and potential violence.  Having done that first, I wish that they would develop policies that would actually help support community efforts to deal with issues contributing to the mass shootings.  Rather than funding things like “cowboy poetry”, bailing out Wall Street or poorly managed solar companies, those funds could be better spent in returning those funds to states and local communities for improved crisis intervention services and mental health policies especially for the early childhood years.

I wish that more school officials and teachers would take to heart that it really can happen at their school and that there are things that can be done to improve their odds of defeating an attacker before someone dies.  It takes cooperation, commitment and vigilance every day.  It also takes courage, not just to do what they do, but to teach in spite of the risks.

I wish that parents understood that even though they expect schools to take care of their children, that they need to follow up on whether the schools are doing a good job, not just keeping them safe, but teaching as well.  The ultimate responsibility for children, even when they’re at school, lies with parents and it remains their responsibility to prepare their children to live out in this dangerous world.  Overprotecting them and being completely disengaged in a child’s life both do a disservice to raising a successful future adult.

I wish that every citizen would understand that no matter how many laws are passed; criminals by definition will violate laws.  I wish they would learn that no matter how much we wish we could stop criminals before they hurt people, law enforcement officers are no substitute for being aware of what is going on, prudence and common sense.  I wish they’d understand that when they see crimes or suspicious behavior, saying something may save someone’s life, including their own.

I wish that Americans would understand that politicians say things to get themselves elected that create divisions between fellow Americans, causing fear, hatred and distrust between them.  I wish Americans would actually stop listening to political talking points and talk to each other like fellow human beings looking for solutions to the problems we face as individuals and as a country.  America does best when we help each other out and politicians haven’t solved too many problems here lately. I wish that when Americans witness a horrific event like mass shootings they are not directly impacted by, that rather than flinging blame or being overwhelmed and victimized that these events serve as reminders to connect with family and friends, as well as actually reach out to those hurting, not just talk about it.

Finally, I wish that law enforcement officers, first responders and our military will all come home safe.  I wish that all will remember that the horrific things they see are not all there is of the world, that there is love, kindness, honor and friendship beyond their careers.  I wish they would take time to look for those things each day to refresh and restore their humanity for a long, successful and rewarding career. We know that life can change in a moment better than most, so extra efforts to cherish our families and friends are well spent.

This is a big wish list; some would say “wishful” thinking.  Yet, Christmas is known for miracles and these are worth thinking about.  After the worst of the pain of a tragedy, we often find that it was that event that brought us closer to others and in the coming together, we were comforted and survived what seemed incomprehensible to endure.

Juli Adcock began her career in law enforcement with the Escambia County Florida Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy until she was injured in a riot situation. She transferred to Judicial Security and retired in 1998. Juli pursued career advancement training with an emphasis on officer survival, interviews and interrogation. She worked with a local Rape Crisis Center and in victim’s advocacy, complementing her college course work in psychology. She currently resides in New Mexico and is an instructor with The Appleseed Project (www.appleseedinfo.com). The Appleseed Project is a rifle marksmanship clinic teaching the fundamentals of firing an accurate round downrange every 3 to 4 seconds, out to 500 yards, as well as American history. She has trained military personnel at White Sands Missile Range who are certifying as Squad Designated Marksmen. Juli instructs basic handgun skills to new gun owners in preparation for responsible personal gun ownership. She also writes for The Badge Guys(www.thebadgeguys.com).  She can be reached at [email protected] or through Law Enforcement Today.