A New York State Correction Officer suffered severe injuries yesterday when a package, left at his home, exploded. Although it is mere presumption at this early juncture that this incident had anything to do with the officer’s job, the presumption begs the question “Who is protecting those that protect us?”
The bedrock of our society is our justice system, but our complex system of laws only allows our society to function because we have a system of enforcement in place to ensure that those laws are followed. We rely on Police Officers to capture those that break the law, Court Officers to oversee the non-violent trials of alleged offenders, Correction Officers to provide care, custody and control of those convicted of committing offenses and Parole Officers to ensure that the released offender remains compliant with our laws after their release from prison. The key word in each of those enforcement categories is “officer.” Without officers our system would quickly dissolve, as any deterrent to abhorrent acts would simply not exist. Based on this mere fact one would expect officers to be at the pantheon of occupational respectability. Yet, over the past several years officers’ status in common discourse has deteriorated so greatly that their once noble standing is now treated by many as slightly above those that they protect us against. Officers are not the enemy, but we have allowed a minority of incidents to overwhelm the true defining characteristics of the word. As this has happened we have slowly lost grip of our protection of our protectors; officers necessitate the potential wrath of the mass to truly wield their own sword. We have left them bruised, but it isn’t too late to circle round, nurse their wounds and restore their faith in our faith in them.
Ensuring that our civil liberties and human rights are upheld and recognized at all levels of the justice system is priority number one. What seems to be misplaced in the conversation, however, is that officers are the protectors of those liberties and rights, not the detractors. Some may question the societal and cultural awareness of this assertion and I tip my hat in recognition of the lack of perfection existing in our system, but I do not yield my time to this dissent. As we strive to a more representative body understanding of the vast differences in our populace, our current officers deserve no less recognition.
Attacks on officers, all officers, are on the rise. It does not take a sociological study to understand that criminals feel more brazen in their assaults on officers because of the diminishing status of the title. It is time for restoration, it is time for the public to stand with officers and give them the factual benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. It is time for the criminals to know that they have no safe haven with the ordinary man and woman, we place our trust in those that protect us daily from criminality.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” I place my feet alongside those of Officers and stand firmly with them because eventually, when no one protects those that protect us, there will be none willing to protect us anymore.