Celebrating Heroes

‘Law Enforcement Appreciation Day’ and Back-the-Blue Upswing

“By and large, Americans love and support their police. One need only watch a micro-dose of daily police culture to serve as a reminder of the deeply-embedded trials and tribulations cops withstand on our behalf…”

Although there are 365 daily opportunities to reach out and thank a police officer for his/her dedication to community duty, January 9, 2018 is marked on calendars as “National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” (NLEAD). With roughly 900,000 cops nationwide, with police retirements prepped and holding on to the HQ handles, and with a shortage of police applicants in many areas of the country…those who don the badge and spearhead toward the vast unknown surely deserve the applause and bravos.

An article I am composing for future publication on OpsLens is concentrated on the upcoming mass-extravaganza billed as Super Bowl LII hosted by the city of Minneapolis. An article thereafter the Super Bowl is over and done with will focus on the reported exodus of Minneapolis cops who are waiting in the wings ala retirements.

The hordes of law enforcement officers required to pull-off such an event and ensure the tremendous undertaking of security can put strains on daily resources. That is why state police and federal agents will be supplementing the approximately 880 sworn-strength comprising the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

And for those MPD cops who served their time and are prepared to de-pin badges for a shadowbox display, kudos to you. Any cop whose last duty day is spent retiring at the Super Bowl is equivalent to a party within a party. Most police officers retire from The Job inconspicuously, indulging in private fanfare and celebration at home or elsewhere with squad cohorts. That is all good.

To any police retiree anywhere across our beloved country, you are to be saluted in earnest.

To any police retiree anywhere across our beloved country, you are to be saluted in earnest. Nowadays, it is common knowledge that policing for any span of time is an arduous challenge. Making it to the proverbial 20-and-out milestone (or beyond) is phenomenal and deserving of the key to the city of Atlantis…where everything ought to be smoothly free-flowing. No chaos. No phantoms wishing to kill for the sake of killing. No more donut jokes, either.

The toll policing takes on law enforcement officers performing a gritty job is, well…gritty. Indeed, the job of being a police officer is rewarding, fulfilling, and glorious when lives are saved, when babies are delivered under a light bar, when CPR has affirmative impacts. Conversely, the duty of cops magnetizes them to horrific scenes with inexplicable instances involving humans who couldn’t defend themselves. Like any call involving a child whose welfare relies on loving adults and is betrayed. cops pick up those pieces of societal shame and harbor…things.

It takes strength to harness such tragedies under the gleaming badge and close to the heart. It does not always turn out like a storybook, at least not a feel-good one.

It takes strength to harness such tragedies under the gleaming badge and close to the heart. It does not always turn out like a storybook, at least not a feel-good one.

Police suicides have teeth in the continuum of human burdens and the monumental weight foisted upon the same shoulders that were used to swear an oath. I could write a college psychology course right here, but I trust you get the point. Cops are human. The oath is something a human does. What comes thereafter is anyone’s guess, and the ominous nature roaming a free society can be daunting and haunting…leading to an incomprehensible final decision.

I harbor deeply reserved respect for those badged warriors who reasoned that breathing hurt too much. Beyond grace and humility, hats off to this special demographic which somehow smiled until it pained to do so another day.

While I see reports of police suicides looping across the daily wires, some studies analyzing this element empirically discuss police suicide and other police-related myths among law enforcement culture. A piece I read the other day resoundingly echoed how police suicides are on the rise. Other sources claim just the opposite. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yet the undeniable truth is that it is a reality, despite any stats attached to the debate.

Indeed, police suicides are the construction of destruction. Why? remains a valid inquiry. Without wonder we are aimless and pointless. Judgments and stigmatization serve no purpose and are, perhaps, part of what influences tragic culminations of some cops. Cops and citizens alike can work harder at comprehension transcending intervention. Everyone is capable and worthy of salvation, without question. That is why courageous individuals become cops. Paradoxically, some fall prey to the very circumstances they help others overcome.

Everyone is capable and worthy of salvation, without question. That is why courageous individuals become cops. Paradoxically, some fall prey to the very circumstances they help others overcome.

Circling back to today’s special recognition, “Back the Blue” campaigns, fundraisers, and impromptu provisions by independent and franchise restaurants offered-up their brand while standing in support of our nation’s police forces. Honoring police officials grieving the loss of one of their own, a Colorado Chick-fil-A opened on Sunday –its regular day off– to fire-up the cookware so as to serve hundreds of law enforcement officers who were working the scene of five LEOs shot by a lone gunman. No reservations were necessary. Just the goodness of community coming through for cops who come through for citizens.

Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish, 29, one of the five LEOs shot on December 31, 2017 was slain. The memorialized funeral service and subsequent burial process was recognized by the Chili’s chain throughout the state of Colorado, officiating a special fundraiser from its sales tickets, the proceeds of which were dedicated to “The Fallen Officer Fund of Douglas County Give Back Event”. Others have shown gratitude to law enforcement in varying ways, including financial support for surviving loved ones.

By and large, Americans love and support their police.

By and large, Americans love and support their police. One need only watch a micro-dose of daily police culture to serve as a reminder of the deeply-embedded trials and tribulations cops withstand on our behalf, as exemplified in a Police Tribute 2018 video montage.

As Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy reminded us: “Take care of your family. Take care of your friends. And most of all take care of yourself.”

That is sound advice for all members of society, for which we can also be thankful.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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