opinion: Citizens deserve thanks for keeping an eye out for each other
The public we serve are our eyes and ears. Though we log hundreds of thousands of miles in a patrol car scanning the streets it still is usually a citizen who hears or sees something and calls 911. Those initial calls get police officers and other first responders heading to a scene.
Thank you to all the good neighbors who call 911 when they realize someone needs help. Whether it is a scream in the night, an audible burglary alarm, gun shots, people shouting and arguing, screeching tires or the sickening low thud that crashes produce, that gets a person to pick up the phone and get help moving in the right direction. Thank you to all that call, instead of rolling over in bed and figuring someone else has called.
Thank you to those who witness a crime or suspicious activity, call 911 and stay on the line directing the dispatcher who in turn directs the officer responding to the scene. That “real time” set of eyes warning the police what kind of scene and where the principal players involved are located, save us time, keeps us safe and helps us catch criminals.
Thanks to motorists for doing your duty and stopping at the scene of traffic crashes to render aid. The prompt reporting of the crash, comforting words to a victim and first aid really does save lives.
Being terrified, in peril and alone, a person—in this case a crash victim — can lose hope, go into shock and quickly die. Sometimes the mere presence of another human being can provide comfort. It can provide a person the victim can look in the eye for reassurance.
Those few moments before the “cavalry” — that is first responders — get there are crucial to someone who is critically injured. A low, slow, reassuring voice that help is coming coupled with confident direction for the injured — like “Stay still, help is on the way and I am not leaving you” — can save a life. Thanks to all those who help before first responders arrive — you are heroes and very much appreciated.
Thanks to the citizens who see abuse or neglect of other citizens—those who cannot take care of themselves — and report it to the police. Those calls get police out to check on a person’s condition and get the ball rolling to get the abused and neglected person help, before it is too late.
Thanks to those citizens who donate or volunteer at the social agencies the police depend on like: Safe House, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Shelter Association, Food Gathers, Suicide Hotlines, substance abuse clinics like Dawn Farms, Ozone House, Poison Control, all the churches that feed the hungry and countless other service agencies that are there when people need them. A special thanks to those who give to the police for the Adopt-a-Family program that can bring a little cheer to kids in need on Christmas.
Thanks to taxpayers who pay our salary and do so without complaint. Please know that we in public service really want to do a good job, but we need the resources—personnel and equipment—necessary to get the job done. Thank you for understanding that we can not do our jobs for free, because we have families to feed, clothe and shelter just like you. Thanks for not begrudging the pensions we earned when they are published in the media at contract negotiation time and thanks for understanding that we retire early only because statistically our lives will be at least ten years shorter, on average, than yours.
Thanks to the citizens we come in contact with, that take the time write a card or tell our bosses when we have done a good job. Some of those cards, letters or phone calls are what keep us going. Some of those written words are kept forever as cherished reminders that maybe our life’s work really did make a difference—at least to one person on one occasion.
This may sound odd, but thanks to those who critique us and complain when they feel we have done a bad job. In the long run, those critiques make us better, stronger and more professional—even though at the time they are received they may sting. Sometimes those complaints identify problems and get us resources. Sometimes they cull those who should not be in our profession and make our police departments stronger with men and women who lead with their hearts and take pride in doing good and proper police work.
Thanks to those citizens who smile and wave as we drive by—those small gestures mean more to us than you can imagine.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.