Friday, May 25, 2007

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I resisted watching the live coverage of Moscow Police Officer Lee Newbill’s funeral on television today. However, I was drawn to watch the solemn event, mostly because DD was there, watching in person, but also because it’s such a big part of our lives.

Watching the event brings to the surface the feelings and fear I push down every day when DD leaves for work. I am routinely asked by people who find out my husband is a police officer how I can deal with it, how I am not in a constant state of worry.

For us, it’s our way of life: a job just like anything else. That is what I tell myself to get through each day, each shift. It’s what I tell myself when those shifts run over and my husband hasn’t called to tell me he’ll be late. The rational side of my mind always reasons that there was a "routine" call, report, traffic stop or accident that is keeping DD away. But we all know there is no such thing as routine, so the "what if" part of my brain always sneaks in a thought of what if something is wrong? What if something has happened? What if he won’t be coming home?

Thank God he has come home safely from each and every shift. Too many in our country don’t.

We get caught up in our daily lives and forget that there are people in our communities who go to work each day to protect our way of life: police officers. Not one of them is immune, not even in small town Idaho, to the fact that each time they go into service for us, they may not return. Yet, each day they still dedicate themselves to that duty.

How do we, as a society, thank them? We criticize and analyze their actions in the media. We take for granted their service when we are in need and criticize their enforcement of such things as traffic laws. We forget they are there, or worse tell them to leave when they are. We fight their tickets, try to discredit them in court and bad mouth them to anyone who will listen. We underpay and forget to thank them. We treat them as if they are doing something wrong. Until one gets killed or injured.

Suddenly, the same reporters who last week were reporting biased, half-investigated pieces about recent police activities are eager to get the "scoop" on a fallen officer. Suddenly they’re "sacrificing" their time, traveling away from their families to cover a man’s death, when the real story - his character, his service, his life - was there all along.

Suddenly the coworker who won’t stop complaining that the police are harassing him, stopping him, giving him tickets when he "was only going ten over," is talking about how terrible it is that an officer is shot. How a person who could ambush and kill a cop is scum. How a person who could hate a cop is scum. But you know soon enough that same coworker will be complaining again about being stopped for "no good reason" or that the police did respond fast enough to his complaint about a barking dog.

I know next week the headlines will once again have an accusing slant toward law enforcement. The media will have moved past the death of one of Moscow’s finest in favor of stories that bring in the numbers. Stories about possible corruption and misconduct. Stories that skew the public perception of police officers. Stories that make people forget about the ultimate sacrifice given by our nation’s law enforcement and their families every day.

3 comments:

otisgexperience said...

I'm sure that when an officer dies, ANYWHERE, it has a big effect on you guys. I would expect it to. I feel the same way when I read about Marines dying. But why would you write this? I don't understand.

Rose Huskey said...

My interest in urging our County Commissioners to establish an Adult Misdemeanor Probation Department is based on my desire to help law enforcement officers carry out their duties, provide meaningful assistance to offenders who need support and guidance in re-directing their lives, and to honor the lives of the victims of our recent tragedy in Moscow.

My thoughts and prayers are with all law enforcement officers and their spouses, partners, and families.

Rose Huskey

Revka said...

I completely agree with you! I despise the way the media goes out of their way to make civil servants, whether police officers or soldiers, look like the bad guys. Then when one dies, they are the favored son. I do wish all of us would take the time to realize what these people and their families sacrifice to keep us safe. I say, "Thank you," to you and your husband!