Recent headlines paint a dangerous picture of our society and the eroding level of respect extended to police officers. The recent shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston serves to underscore what many believe to be an unpinning of regard for authority towards those sworn to protect us.
I’m not going to get into the pointing of fingers and placing blame – doing so is a much more complex issue and one I am certainly not qualified to address. But when it comes to respect for those serving our society, be it police, fire, or emergency services, I strongly support of upholding the respect for authority as we as a society extend to them.
Many of us personally know individuals in service. Many are friends, family, or neighbors. They leave each day, serve the community, and return home to their families. The key difference, however, is they face a much different world from the rest of us while on the clock.
According to Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org), an organization dedicated to nationally recognizing police officers that have died in the line of duty, 83 individuals have lost their lives in service to society thus far in 2015. And in a most heinous and troubling example, the sheriff’s deputy in Houston was killed in cold blood from behind.
While all in the line of duty deaths are tragic, the execution-style of the sheriff’s deputy symbolizes a potential shift in both the tenor and boundaries of how a society relates to those sworn to protect them. A strong and successful society can only exist when a balance of both respect and accountability is extended to both parties. My concern, however, is we are witnessing a potential tipping of the scales.
A successful society is one where a diverse group of people is working together towards achieving a broad goal. And in our modern civilized society, the larger base of citizens extends authority to a smaller designated group to serve, protect, and enforce the rule of law. And in order for this arrangement to work, the elements of both respect and accountability must be in place.
I’m not naive enough to think all is perfect with this arrangement. But I do trust in the people behind the systems in place to successfully identify and root out problems, hold those accountable, and extend justice. And it is just these very tools that allow our society to successfully function.
Like many of you, we know many of those behind the uniform. They are good people and hold the same solid values of the society they are sworn to protect. I also recognize it takes a very special person to make the sacrifices they make in the name of service to others. And for that, I will always offer my highest level of respect.
My hope is that recent events may actually raise a level of awareness of how special these individuals are the critical role they play in a civilized society.