We demand a lot from our law enforcement officers these days. We expect them to prevent acts of mass violence, fight common crime, resolve domestic disputes, avert school threats, deal with the drug addicted and the mentally ill, keep traffic flowing and respond to accidents, among many other things. We expect them to do it all in a calm, polite and respectful manner. We don’t show them much appreciation for doing their jobs, and we are not very understanding when things go wrong.
In fact, these days, it seems that we are more likely to vilify law enforcement officers for the suspicion that they are biased or trigger happy, than we are to thank them for a job well done.
One of the ironies of democracy is that we make our own laws but we don’t always follow them. That’s why we need police officers — to enforce the law. It is the most fundamental form of public service. Essential to a well-ordered, peaceful, productive society.
It’s not glamorous. It’s not lucrative. It can be tedious, patrolling the street, keeping alert, getting involved when things seem amiss. And, of course, all too often, it can be dangerous. Even fatal.
But it is good work, important work, satisfying work: to help someone in distress, to solve a crime, keep the peace, protect life and property, enforce the law, help do justice.
While no one is perfect, most of the people who work in law enforcement are well-intentioned, good-hearted people, trying to do their best at a job that can be quite challenging at times. The vast majority of interactions between law enforcement and the public are conducted without incident. While there may be a few bad actors, law enforcement officers work in a system that provides numerous opportunities for criticism, redress, appeal, and improvement.
This week is National Police Week. It was so designated by joint resolution of Congress in 1962 as an annual tribute to law enforcement service.
Pursuant to the same resolution, Tuesday, May 15, is National Peace Officers Memorial Day, when we honor law enforcement officers who have been killed or injured in the line of duty.
On Thursday, May 17, Maine will hold its own Fallen Officers Ceremony in Augusta, at 11 a.m. at the Maine Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
This week, and always, please join me in showing our deep appreciation to all the women and men in law enforcement — federal, state, local, and tribal, for all the work that they do to keep us safe.