Green River Star -

By Chris Steffen
Green River Police Chief 

Notes from Town Square: Thank a police officer

 


This year, May 10 through May 16 marks National Police Week in the United States. The City of Green River historically does a proclamation for this week and uses it as a time for many in the community to thank local law enforcement for their service and protection of the community. For those of us in the profession of law enforcement, it is a stark reminder and remembrance of those that have died in the line of duty, both the previous full year and for all the years before, whose names now sit on a wall in Washington, D.C., memorialized for family, friends and others to visit.

In 2014, the total number of officers killed nationally in the line of duty was 126. Those came in various forms, from traffic related crashes, training-related accidents, etc. The most alarming from a law enforcement standpoint is the high number of fatal, felonious firearm deaths experienced this past year. Many of these firearm deaths have been from an ambush of an officer. These officers walked into a situation completely unaware that someone was lying in wait to try to kill them, for nothing more than wearing the badge and uniform. Officers, like Alyn Beck, who was raised in Green River and his partner Igor Soldo, of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, were merely having lunch when they were gunned down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The highest number of deaths for law enforcement officers occurred in 1974, with a staggering 280 officers being killed. In 2001, partially due to the tragic events of Sept. 11, the nation’s death toll went up to 241 officers killed in the line of duty. I mention these numbers, not because people don’t know that law enforcement is a dangerous job, but because these numbers represent officers, both men and women, that left behind families and loved ones.

In May 2005, while attending training in Virginia, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Law Enforcement week activities. As a part of this, we had the honor of spending the day with kids, both younger and older, of the officers that were killed the previous year. It was a humbling and tearful experience seeing all these kids and the experiences they were going through. Some of the older ones were still obviously having trouble dealing with things, while some of the younger children seemed to see it as a fun day spent with men and women willing to play with them. I will never forget one little girl, probably four or five years old who ran up to me, wanting to be picked up and held. I obliged her, when she immediately said “you look just like my daddy and he’s in heaven now.” That touched me and still does to this day.

Many occupations are dangerous in today’s workforce. I know many men and women that are miners, which can be very dangerous and one I would be scared to do. Railroad workers have a dangerous job, as I have witnessed what a railcar can do to a person. I am sure there are many other jobs that I didn’t mention that are also dangerous.

Law enforcement has taken a bad rap as of late, some of which is our own doing in my opinion, but some of it is the difficult and unpopular job we face. Being in an extremely dangerous situation and having to make a split second life and death decision is a hard one to deal with but easy to be critical of. We all want to go home to our families and loved ones at the end of our work day, and not end up a statistic, number or a name on a wall. One thing I know is that the officers of the Green River Police Department, our animal control, crossing guards and non-sworn staff are working very hard to make everyone safe. I have witnessed selfless acts of kindness from officers and police department employees here, towards victims and citizens, many of which went out of their way to not be recognized or for anyone to know what they had done.

I encourage everyone in the local communities to take a minute and thank a law enforcement officer. Often times, that is a huge thing for us, as we don’t often hear “thank you”, but these dedicated men and women sacrifice much for the safety and security of our communities.

 

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