It’s Law Week. May 15 is officially recognized as Law Enforcement Memorial Day. A day set aside to honor the service and ultimate sacrifice made by Peace Officers dating back to the beginning of our country. Each year, the names of more heroes are added to the stone facades, a permanent testament and promise to never forget.
Police officers in our country are serving in a climate of excessive criticism, in levels not seen in a generation. The cop on the beat is scrutinized and blamed for factors often beyond his/her control, more than ever before. Every day, another article appears to blame police for some other purported transgression. Sometimes the complaint has merit, but most of the time it does not. The noise is loud all around, but what is lost in the shouting and blame is what police officers still do on every street in this country, every day. They confront criminals and do their best to maintain safety and order in their communities. They defend the thin blue line between criminals and citizens. Far too often, the officer pays the price with their very life, like NYPD Officer Brian Moore did last week.
On average, every 54 hours a police officer is killed somewhere in this country. Last year, 127 officers died in the line of duty. Their names will be carved into the memorial and read at the candlelight vigil in D.C. The police nation will pause to remember those lost and renew their commitment to the brotherhood of law enforcement, the honor of the Thin Blue Line.
In spite of the dangers and criticisms, cops continue to serve and protect. As NYPD Commissioner Bratton said yesterday, “We cannot be defined by that criticism. Because what is lost in the shouting and the rhetoric, is the context of what we do.” There will be plenty of time for debate as our country moves forward. Policing will adapt and adjust, the way it has always done. But what will not change is what is inherent in the job: crime is messy. Still, the vast majority of cops who walk the beat every day for our safety do so with honor and integrity. A small number of incidents, compared to the millions of encounters, cannot and will not undermine the bravery and dedication of the thousands of police officers who serve us with distinction. The raging debate has no place at this memorial.
Law Week is to honor service, sacrifice and bravery. Those officers who laid down their lives in your service represent the best in our nation. Let them never be forgotten.