National Police Week is here with the candlelight vigil held on May 13. Names of the newly fallen having been added to the memorial in April are a solemn reminder that we in this line of work are indeed mortal, despite our best efforts.
The word that keeps reverberating through my mind is gratitude, which for some, may seem incongruous in light of the increasing number of names added to the memorial in Washington, DC. Perhaps sharing things I see will make thoughts of gratitude more sensible in the shadows of our losses.
I can remember a time when there was no formal national recognition or memorial for law enforcement. Certainly, communities, having lost officers, would establish such things. There are now more groups gaining membership and momentum to provide support for families and law enforcement officers themselves than there were when I was on patrol. Though we still have a long way to go, I feel gratitude for the progress made.In the loss of any of our own and dealing with the daily grind, it is hard not to be overwhelmed with the bitterness, injustice and uncomfortable knowledge of our own vulnerabilities.
It is here that the value of a formal week to come together and reflect becomes apparent.Warriors across the ages have grieved and reflected together, out of sight of those they fought for and the wounds were carried stoically back into the battlefield. Though most traditions and values are a good thing, hiding burdens is not one of them. It has led to ignorance and the taking for granted of sacrifice, duty and honor by too many of those we are sworn to protect.
Allowing those we serve to see the price we willingly pay to serve as sheepdogs is another aspect of our service to our communities and our country. Those same communities and our country cannot have flourishing peace, liberty and prosperity without the Rule of Law and someone to stand in the way of those who would prey on the weaker amongst us.
Sharing that sacrifice, knowing that freedom isn’t, free is the best way we can lead others to appreciate our unique heritage and lead the way in the work required to preserve and protect it in its highest aspirations. Though we understand not all will value our service, it is the individual struck in the heart in a specific moment in time that may make all the difference in choosing a path of life for themselves, their communities and our country, rather than that of destruction and death.
Though we feel sharply the grief of loss, those fallen and their families, truly aren’t victims, nor are we in their remembrance. They give us two gifts in their lives and their deaths. We remember their lives in laughter, brave service, enduring and persevering though the crucible that is law enforcement service today. Many were mentors, both for fellow officers and their communities. This gift of their lives brings us comfort in our remembrance.
Their deaths provide opportunities to sharpen our minds, training, and our spirits to ready against the new challenges evolving every day. Their families, though dealt a grievous blow, teach us to appreciate, nurture and remember those who live with the never ending anxiety of that dreaded call, the unforgiving hours. and lost moments. I am truly grateful for the sacrifices, grace. and fortitude of so many of our law enforcement families. Our families support us in life and in death.
In our service as law enforcement officers, we cannot forget those who help make our service possible. Too often, we take for granted those things that seem to magically appear to help us perform our duties. Though they are not on the front lines, supply clerks, mechanics, IT folks, records clerks, building maintenance, really too many to list, do their part in often thankless, unrecognized service. I can recall many a time, people in these fields going out of their way to help me get back out on the streets to be ready for my duties. I saw them grieve when one of us joined the fallen, though often forgotten in the shuffle. I remember them with gratitude.In our reflection, we cannot forget our dispatchers and call takers, often our lifeline in our worst moments and those we protect.
Too often, we forget that they take the brunt of all the public can dish out and hear horrific things, both through the phones and the radio. They are the buffer between us and those who abuse the 911 system. They frequently provide the information that makes the difference in walking into a call blind or being prepared for what potentially lies ahead and much more. Finally, we must remember those citizens, who, understanding duty and sacrifice, respond to an officer in trouble. Most, we never know about until our need arises. Many more citizens than we truly know in the haze of criminal activity, broken families and sleaze we wade through, are teaching themselves, their children and their neighbors to become better citizens.
As dark as the horizon sometimes gets, it is the moments of gratitude that can restore us to rise again, renewed and resolved in our service. Most of all, I am grateful to have had the privilege of serving in the calling that is like no other in teaching about humanity. Through serving I gained a greater understanding of what the greatest Servant of all was wanting us to learn… faith, hope, and love of others as ourselves.
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 and the Concealed Carry class for the State of New Mexico. She can be reached at [email protected] through Law Enforcement Today.