STRAIGHT TALK: Never forget those in law enforcement who serve us

Steve Stefanides

We are a nation addicted to tabloid journalism and the most sensational headlines that can be found in newsstands and at supermarket checkout counters.

We have a tendency to believe that Elvis is still fathering children, 39 years after his death. Some believe the most outlandish statements made by a small but regularly followed group of talking heads who make a living by bashing all that is good in this nation and feeding off the despair and tragedy.

Such is the case with the unfortunate broad-brush approach to condemning law enforcement officials throughout the country. High-profile incidents have provided those with hidden agendas the opportunity to smear the reputations of all men and women who work within this proud profession.

Today there are about 684,300 law enforcement professionals working on the local, county, state and federal levels. They patrol your streets, keep your children safe, assist you when you're ill, look for your lost dog, recover your stolen items, bring clarity to some of the most complicated family matters, guard the borders of our nation, apprehend some of the most violent offenders in society or just hold the hand of a lost child.

They are also mothers, fathers, grandparents and members of your community. They volunteer their time at Little League, are members of your local churches, enjoy having date night with their spouses and love to read a bedtime story to their children.

They do all these things after coming home from a shift that might find them dealing with the worst scenarios in society. They are expected to be the expert with all the answers, the one that can reach out and make things right for people they have only met.

They are expected to make life-and-death decisions in a split second that may forever affect the lives of strangers and their families for the rest of their lives. They are trained to handle many of the situations you and I might feel are impossible and are exposed to many no one could have ever imagined.

Unfortunately, they are only human and are susceptible to mistakes and they should be held accountable for those errors. As citizens we should always expect accountability from those we trust with such important responsibilities. Those processes that provide for that accountability should always be above the influence of politics or personal agendas.

Individuals who desire to see justice need not burn down their cities, riot in the streets or destroy the dreams their neighbors have worked a lifetime to create for themselves and their families. Those dreams have created the backbone of neighborhoods while providing goods and services to families who live and work there and are also the source of jobs.

You'll never be able to convince me that burning down a building, looting a liquor store or stealing a TV will bring justice for any wrongdoing by anyone. These are the irrational acts of violence, destruction and hate that must have consequences and not the senseless ramblings of politicians who have little or no understanding of how to lead.

We as citizens should continue to demand the best from our law enforcement professionals and ensure there is accountability for those we in which we place so much trust. We should also demand the same from those political leaders to whom they look for leadership and support.

We should also never forget the names of those 44 officers who have lost their lives in 2015 doing a job with great pride and honor. Men and women like police officer Benjamin Deen and officer Liqori Tate who made the ultimate sacrifice carrying out their oath of office in Hattiesburg, Miss., this last Saturday evening when they were murdered in cold blood during a routine traffic stop.