There is probably not going to be much argument in saying that it has been an eventful year since the last National Police Week. If the trend continues, by the end of the year, more officers will have died in the line of duty than last year. National Police Week 2013 brings with it a great deal to contemplate as we honor and remember those giving the last full measure of devotion and sacrifice in the line of duty.
Since May of 2012, there have been particularly horrific, headline grabbing crimes, including the cannibalistic drug fueled attacks last summer. There were mass shooting events including Aurora and Sandy Hook, a rogue ex-LAPD officer ambushing family members of those he blamed for his failure as well as officers running to the sound of gunfire to stop his rampage.
More recently, Texas criminal justice officials, a WV Sheriff and a Colorado Corrections official were ambushed and murdered in their homes or on duty. The latest horror is the Boston bombing with the injuries and deaths seen in war zones and officers ambushed; one dying and one clinging to life after running to the sound of explosions and gun fire.
The family, friends and co-workers of those fallen will have a long process of picking up the pieces, each in their own time and way. The rest of us will pay our respects, and then go back to the daily grind. For me, much like Memorial Day, National Police Week is a reminder of ultimate sacrifices and a time to reflect on what truly matters.
Difficult questions come to mind. Am I honoring their legacy and sacrifice in the performance of my duties? Am I a support and encouragement to those around me, rather than dwelling on so many things that are an annoyance, inconvenient or irritating? What am I doing to become more prepared and effective for what may lie ahead? Perhaps most importantly, am I getting sucked into unhealthy levels of negativity and cynicism so that positive things in life are being taken for granted or overlooked?
The nature of policing, especially during times of economic and political turmoil can grind even the most positive person down and it is for this reason that the National Police Week Memorial is such an important event. It is an opportunity to make an appointment with ourselves to take the time to reflect and ask ourselves those difficult questions each year.
It honors and remembers those fallen, not just through the annual memorial, but through the time that is given to remind ourselves again and again, that life can change in a moment. In difficult times that America faces, it becomes even more important to sort out what is truly important in order to sustain ourselves.
We are that thin blue line, the thing is there are people both inside and outside of the line that make that line possible, even with our warrior-ship. Forgetting, overlooking and taking them for granted is easy given the insular nature of policing, as well as the distorting force of the political and economic turmoil facing the nation.
The selfless, anonymous gesture of a combat veteran laying his purple heart, a teddy bear and a note for Santa Cruz Sgt. Butch Baker and Officer Elizabeth Butler murdered by a sexual predator is one example of support from outside of the thin blue line. The little boy, 3 or 4 years old bringing his allowance and his most precious possession, his stuffed dinosaur, to give to the slain Lakewood officer’s children is another example, among many others that end up lost in the lurid media news cycle.
Many of these people have their own tragedies and challenges, yet find it in their hearts to give what comfort they can to help officers in need. Some will donate to law enforcement causes like giving vests to K-9’s, support for the families of fallen officers and even attending city council meetings to support law enforcement needs for raises or equipment, without bringing attention to themselves or demanding anything in return.
Perhaps a most profound thing to reflect on is that even if citizens may not understand what we endure, it doesn’t always mean they don’t care. It is easy to think that the people we deal with, drunk, drugged and predatory are all there is.
I have had the pleasure of meeting so many remarkable citizens through teaching concealed carry classes and rifle marksmanship that work to make their communities a better place to live. In the difficult challenges facing the nation, it will not be a surprise to find that we will need them, just as much as they need us. The links that follow are reminders for those days when decent people seem a distant memory and we forget that people we never see are doing what they can to support us.
To learn more:
http://ashburn.patch.com/blog_posts/pray-for-leesburg-police-officers (citizen group praying for their officers and working to improve their neighborhoods)
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.org). 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