STRAIGHT TALK: What happened to respect for the badge?
As I write this commentary today, 14 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty so far this year. That should give us all pause to think about what awaits the professionals who take to the streets each day to protect our communities and our liberty. Eleven of those deaths have been by gun fire alone.
Yes, those men and women know the risks when they raise their hand and swear to uphold the laws and the constitution. However, that does not mean the senseless killings should be any more fathomable to the general public.
Where have we gone wrong, what has caused this terrible loss of focus on the value of life, any life, and the disregard for the respect we should show to one another?
Individuals entering factories and launching vicious attacks on co-workers, children bringing guns to schools and taking the lives of teachers and fellow students or a spouse violently taking the life of his partner and children.
The terrible loss of lives in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and even just up the street in Fort Myers is unimaginable. Every evening, the TV has back to back news stories about these horrendous acts of violence against so many innocent victims.
In 2015 we saw murder rates rise dramatically from the 2014 numbers. Milwaukee alone has more than doubled their homicide rate, while other large cities have seen significant increases.
Where did we as a society begin to lose or respect for authority or blur the lines between right and wrong. When did it become alright to take a blind eye to bullying and other acts of violence against someone weaker or more vulnerable?
A police officer was one to be respected and admired. He was the guy at the corner who took your hand and helped you across the street when you were in the first grade. You couldn’t wait for the walk home to tell “Officer Joe” what you had done that day in class and then tell your mom you had seen him with a smile on your face.
Maybe it was when we took the officer off the beat. We put him in cars and behind windows that had air conditioning running on high and a radio blasting that drowned out the noises from the neighborhood.
When did it become OK to refer to an officer as a “cop” instead of a police officer?
What is the rationale behind children playing video games that glorify violence and show it in some of the more graphic representations? Violence that includes taking a life, stealing a car and displaying horrifying crimes against women.
One has to give our own small police department credit for returning to a more community-based form of policing. Getting the officer out of the car more often and interacting with the public on a more frequent basis to establish valuable relationships. They deserve our respect and our thanks for doing a job which can mean the difference between life and death.
Our officers assigned to our schools have also had a positive role on building a foundation of good will between the next generation and the law enforcement professionals on the street.
Because we live on a small island doesn’t mean we are immune to the problems that seem to of become common place throughout our nation and our state. Violence is not just focused in communities of a million people or more. Violence is not just in the older cities across our nation, but instead it is found in small places such as Bonita Springs, Naples and yes ... here on our own island.
Our communities, large and small must work with law enforcement in a concerted effort to quell the problems that do exist and be proactive in our approach. It’s time to build bridges to the future and not burn them down!
We must come back to a time when respect for one another is at the top of our priorities in life, not what we drive for a car or the new fancy cellphone we carry.
We can and must take our nation back to a time when we hold all lives as something we cherish and value. If we do this, than the lives of those 14 officers have not been given in vain in the last two months.