We live in an age where things move much more quickly than they ever have; including our attention. How many times have you not read through to the end? Jumped to conclusions after seeing a headline? Take this article for instance, 10 Reasons You Should Not Care About Police. Since it was written four years ago, I’ve gotten a lot of angry responses because people simply didn’t read it through.
Let’s look at something more meaningful, the Police Week Proclamation. I’ve highlighted a few passages for you.
WHEREAS it is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people; and week during which such May 15 occurs as Police Week…
NOW, THEREFORE , I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate May 15, 1963, and May 15 of each succeeding year, as Peace Officers Memorial Day, in honor of those peace officers who, through their courageous deeds, have lost their lives or have become disabled in the performance of duty …
I also designate the week of May 12 through May 18, 1963, and the calendar week during which May 15 occurs of each succeeding year, as Police Week, in recognition of the service given by the men and women who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.
[J]oin in commemorating law enforcement officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities, and, in so doing, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.
Ask yourselves how many times you’ve seen that text. As a matter of fact, look around, where do you see the words “or have become disabled in the performance of duty” used in reference to Police Week? In our haste, we again did not read it through. We again are rushing to grab hold of the first thing we see, “lost their lives.” It’s the easiest to honor, it’s the most understandable and, arguably, the most emotional.
An officer feloniously assaulted and killed in the line of duty is the most tragic and heartbreaking of all, but are they the only ones? Tragic and heartbreaking is the officer confined to a wheelchair, the traumatic brain injury, the one suffering emotionally and the one who took his/her own life. They are all tragic, heartbreaking and deserve to be honored. After all, they, “by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities have rendered a dedicated service to their communities.”
But what have we actually done? By and large, we’ve forgotten the injured and cut them off financially. We’ve call those we lost to suicide cowards when, before their deaths, they were our heroes. These officers, they are all of you; from the most decorated to the most diligent beat cop. They are more than the line of duty deaths, they are your best chance at being a statistic. Dying or being killed while in your uniform will commemorate you forever, but you are more likely to be the one emotionally or physically disabled in the line of duty. You will be quickly forgotten, your name difficult to find and your family will fade away from the suddenly very thin blue line.
The Wounded Officers Initiative has boldly stepped forward to remind people, during Police Week, that all officers should be honored. This year, Blue H.E.L.P. has organized a dinner at the start of Police Week to honor the service of the injured and those we have lost to suicide. The families will be thanked, they will be reminded that their service and commitment will not be forgotten and, names and faces will show everyone what they’ve lost.
In October, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded the International Association of Chiefs of Police a grant for a National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicides. Director Jon Adler, of the BJA, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner. John Preston, known for his hit “Superman Falls” and brother of Officer Michael Preston lost to suicide on January 13, 2016, will speak and make a special presentation. Entertainment will be provided by David Bray USA, best know for his support of first responders and the military as well as his amazing song Last Call. It will be an historic event and a sign of progress.
It’s time we read the proclamation again, understand what it truly means and give honor to every single officer “who, night and day, protect us through enforcement of our laws.” No exceptions. Why? Because all service is honorable.
For more information on the Police Week Dinner, please go to the Blue H.E.L.P. website.
Karen is the co-Founder of Blue H.E.L.P., a national speaker, author, columnist and advocate. Her books Hearts Beneath the Badge and The Price They Pay are used in citizen’s academies throughout the country and endorsed by law enforcement leadership.
Married to a police officer for sixteen years, Karen understands today’s challenges and puts her knowledge to work on behalf of the entire profession.
Karen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Eckerd College. She’s a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), the International Public Safety Association (IPSA), and the Public Safety Writers Association.