Today is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (L.E.A.D.) and most of us see that as a well-deserved observance of law enforcement in general. I know many of our local police officers and see new young officers responding to the roll call as retirements occur.
These can be both thankless jobs as well as jobs that earn the badge-wearer kudos from many. The officer is never quite certain of how he or she will be received in the various ‘situations’ they find they are involved with in the course of a day or week or month or year on duty. They need to be aware always!
I recently attended the swearing-in ceremonies for two (actually three) of the new officers in my local world and was struck by the earnest look, the set of the jaw, and the pride with which each accepted the badge being pinned on his or her uniform. There was the typical banter back and forth between the veteran officers attending and the newbie who was feeling his or her way through the ceremony. Family members looked on with apparent pride.
One of these ceremonies involved the new canine officer who was sworn in with his partner. These two officers will be teamed together for life even after the canine partner has retired from duty. For the officers on the force, the canine officer is respected as a skilled member of the team and the canine officer is looked up to with a kind of reverence given the skills these animals bring to bear to everyday law enforcement.
Atta was born and raised in Germany and all his commands are delivered in German. He is some thirty or forty pounds of pure muscle with such an acute sense of smell that he is almost always sniffing around him sorting the scents into good or bad. Watching these officers work is something to behold. Tracking instincts are well-honed and his concern for his partners’ safety is obvious if he senses danger. They know no fear and if forty or so pounds hits you at thirty or more miles per hour, chances are pretty good that you’re going to end up on the ground where the animal is more than tall enough to deal with you.
These young men, women, and animals are out there every day working diligently to protect you and me and our children and their children. These officers are accustomed to the scorn they’re viewed with by some who have, for whatever reason, come to see officers of the law as something less than desirable. I suspect, of course, these miscreants have things to hide or old encounters to get over, but that is their problem.
If you are involved in an encounter with an officer of the law, try to understand how they have been treated with disdain or worse by others, and do not take offense if they’re not particularly jocular in your encounter. Every stop could be the last they’ll ever make and they have to be aware of that every minute of every hour of every day that they’re on duty.
We ask a great deal of our law enforcement people, and they usually deliver that plus, plus! There are, unfortunately, a few exceptions but those are few and far between. The less-than-desirable officers are usually weeded out somewhere along the line.
Thank an officer today…and every day if that is how you feel about their service. And, by the way, give that same thank-you to those who are trained as firefighters and medical emergency people. Both forces are absolutely essential in today’s world and all members take risks so that you and I don’t have to do that.