On June 11th, 2016 the J.B. Covert Masonic Lodge presented its annual Flag Retirement Ceremony. The Lodge, in partnership with a local Boy Scout Troop, accepted flags from around the community to be retired in a proper and respectful way. In addition, the lodge chose to Honor law enforcement by burning a scroll containing all the names of officers killed in the line of duty during 2015 and 2016. I was honored to be able to give a few words on being a police officer. I share my thoughts with you today.
“Have you ever wondered, what makes a person want to become a police officer? Many people make career choices based on an opportunity to gain wealth or become well-known? A police officer is not very likely to ever get rich or become famous, so fame and fortune is not what motivates a person to become a police officer. So what does compel a person to become a police officer?
A police officer is not forced into the occupation. There is no draft and no mandate that anyone must serve. All who serve in the profession do so voluntarily, because it is something they want to or feel called to do, not something they were forced to do. Although there may be many reasons giving for serving, I think the primary, underlying, theme of what is that compels a person to choose law enforcement as a career, is a desire to be of service, a desire to help, a desire to make a difference. If one can fulfill these desires by engaging in a career that allows that to happen, then they are not only fortunate, they are among the most fortunate.
It has been said that Law Enforcement is a thankless job, and for the most part, it is. But it is a rewarding job. A police does not hear the words “thank you spoken very often. It is much more likely they will hear another expression ending in “you”. The words “thank you” are few, but the emotional rewards are many.
One may wonder why anyone would choose a career that is fraught with danger. No question, it is a very dangerous job. It is the only job where a person is expected to run towards a man with a gun, to run towards the sound of gun fire, and not run in the opposite direction, which every fiber of their being is telling them to do. It was written on Facebook, the repository of all things stupid, that it is a police officer’s job to be killed in the line of duty, that is what they are being paid to do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is their job to stay safe, it is their job to stay alive, it is their job to go home to their families at the end of their shift. Sadly, that is not always the case.
Last year in the United States 128 Law Enforcement Officers lost their lives while serving their communities. So far this year 42 have fallen. When you consider the grief and devastation felt by the family members, the new widows or widowers, the orphaned children, and the communities that are affected by such a tragedy , the ripple effect of any officer’s death is far-reaching and wide. It impacts all of us. Each time an officer is killed in the line of duty a weakening of the shroud of protection provided by the thin blue line occurs. At each death, all of us become less safe. As a side note, when I wrote these words a week ago, the number for this year was 39 who had fallen. Now it is 42.
It has been almost a year since the last line of duty death occurred in the Greater Cincinnati Area. June 19th, 2015 Officer Sonny Kim of the Cincinnati Police Department was shot and killed while serving his community. He was gunned down because he went toward the man with a gun. Please remember his service and service of over 200* others who have paid the ultimate price in the Greater Cincinnati area, to keep us all safe.
In closing, may I suggest that the next time you see a police officer, take a moment and say thank you. To all Law Enforcement, active and retired, alive and dead, and to those who have honored us with their presence here today, thank you, thank you for your service.”
*The stories of all 200 who have fallen can be found in the “Fallen Officer’s” section on the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society and Museum website.
It was an honor and a privilege to be selected to represent the lodge and represent law enforcement at this event. The entire program is a very moving and patriotic experience. If you missed it this year, there is always next year. See you then.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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