It’s easy at times for jokers to take humorous shots at police officers meant in jest. The jokes and stereotypes are mostly the same; they wear little mustaches, eat doughnuts and either look like Barney Fife or Buford J. Justice.
A few take a harder approach in criticizing the men and women in blue, labeling them all serial profilers and harassers based on the regrettable actions of a few.
So it’s worth reminding ourselves, especially this week, of who the majority of law enforcement officers really are and what they do: They run toward danger and save lives. And in doing so, they put their own lives on the line each day.
This was all too evident Tuesday morning when two Georgia prison inmates overpowered their guards and killed them during their escape. The attack took the lives of two Georgia Department of Corrections officers based at Baldwin State Prison: Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue. As of Wednesday night, the assailants remained at large.
Then Wednesday, when a sniper opened fire on members of Congress and their staff at a baseball practice in the Washington suburbs, Capitol Police and other law officers returned fire and engaged the suspect, killing him in the process. Two officers were wounded, and the actions of all clearly saved many lives of those who would have been sitting ducks in the gunmen’s sights.
Each day, there are other examples of the dangers police officers face and the courage they display on the job, all to keep violence from reaching our doorsteps.
In recent weeks, local civic clubs including the Gainesville Kiwanis and combined Gainesville-Hall County Rotarians paid tribute to members of the Gainesville Police Department, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Hall County Correctional Institute, the local State Patrol post, Department of Natural Resources and Juvenile Justice officers. All have earned such praise for the individual jobs they do keeping our streets and towns safe.
Public safety agencies are a bit like smoke detectors blinking away on the wall: We take them for granted and assume all is well until the alarm sounds and we need them. When that happens, and we see them charge into burning buildings or shooting scenes to save the innocent, we are reminded of the price they pay for our sakes.
And let’s not forget their families, the spouses, children and parents of the brave who worry each day for their safety and suffer the pain of loss too often when officers are killed on duty trying to serve the common good.
We live in a dangerous world, and can debate whether it’s more or less so than it once was. Surely the scourges of terrorism and extremism have increased, both the international and homegrown varieties. The parade of violence seen recently in London, Paris and elsewhere is testament to the volatility of our times.
As frightening as that is, imagine what it would be like without the hardy souls on the front lines who proudly wear their badges, draw fire and return it in kind so we can live in peace. We should never forget their steadfast heroism and sacrifice, and always keep them in our prayers and gratitude.
Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a a letter to the editor; you can use this form or email to email@example.com. The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.