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Flags at Half Staff in Honor of National Police Week

National Police week is May 13-19. Appreciate law enforcement year-round.

I can't tell you how many times I've overheard someone talk negatively about police officers and other law enforcement officials.

All too often, I believe, the police are painted as the bad guys, writing tickets and making arrests. But they're also the first people you call when you need help.

I bring this up now because May 13-19 is National Police Week. Police Week began in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation declaring May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the corresponding week as Police Week.

This resonates with me because I grew up with a police officer - my dad. Every night, my mom would kiss him goodbye and tell him to "be careful."

I knew he had a dangerous job, but it never really sunk in until the night one of his fellow officers was shot and killed while on duty. Officer Richard Vauris was 54-years-old. It was a horrible feeling and I didn't get a full night's sleep for months after that worrying about my dad at work.

May of 2002 was my first introduction to National Police Week. My family traveled with the department's Honor Guard to Washington DC, where the name Richard L. Vauris was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall. His End of Watch (EOW) was Feb. 19, 2001.

To this day, I've still never seen anything like it. Tens of thousands of people from all over the country gather in the capital to pay respects to these men and women. Police officers and Honor Guard members from hundreds of different departments bring patches to trade with each other. After witnessing something like that, you see that law enforcement is truly a brotherhood.

National Police Week is a huge event that includes motorcycle rides, bicycle rides, runs, memorial wreathlaying ceremonies, a candlelight vigil and much more.

According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, the names of 362 officers killed in the line of duty will be added to the memorial wall this year. That includes 162 officers that were killed in 2011, and 199 officers who had died in previous years, but whose stories had been lost to history.

That's 162 officers that died to protect their communities. All of them with wives, children, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers left behind to mourn.

So next time you encounter a police officer,  think of thanking him or her for keeping you and this community safe.

Truth13 May 17, 2012 at 06:53 PM
So if you really are interested in the tax payer getting more for their money, consider this Sam. You claim that hiring young, new recruits will better maximize your value. I could not disagree more. You cannot place a value on experience and job knowledge. The less experience , the longer it takes an officer to resolve an issue thus making mire difficult to handle multiple calls. Knowledge and application of laws can only be gained through experience. Example? Agencies are cutting salaries and benefits which cause senior officers to retire. Leaving a depleted force short of experience. Cost in training and hiring far outweighs what could have been saved if no cuts occurred. Not to mention the inexperience and unsafe conditions due to shortages of staff. Might look good on paper but transfers to reality poorly. Sam you remind be of the boss from Christmas Vacation. Remember.? He took Clark's Christmas bonus due to a bottom line and it was a miserable idea. Sometimes we have to be human and think with our heart. Doesn't that make us human??
Sam Clemens May 17, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I agree that experience counts. No question about it. I also know that any good organization continuously discards the lowest performers, and rewards the best ones more than the average. I'm pretty sure that it's as hard to fire a policeman as a teacher, and that good policeman can't be paid more than bad ones. (please educate me on this). Therefore by definition (mine), we'd be better off if the worst police officers were discarded in terms of improved average quality, and secondarily in terms of average cost.
Sam Clemens May 17, 2012 at 08:29 PM
So...are those mass gatherings of policeman there on their on nickle, or is this a type of government paid "convention". I'm thinking GSA convention in Las Vegas (did you see the video's) I do think with my heart. I think about how hard people work to pay taxes to support government that is often very wasteful. It breaks my heart to see their money wasted. My definition of NOT wasteful is continuously striving to deliver more value at less cost. Private sector employees are judged on that everyday. I wish it was so for the government.
Green Martian May 17, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Sam, I agree with you, our miitary deserves more pay and better benefits! But that doesn't mean police and fire deserve less for what they do! And I do not mean to demean our military personnel in the least, but many of our young men and women who enlist in the military do not meet the minimum standards required to be a police officer or firefighter which might explain some of the pay disparity. As to your argument that police and fire personnel know the risks when they sign up, so do our military personnel. But that doesn't mean police officers, fire fighters and service members want to or expect to die on the job. If cops were paid based on performance, as you suggest, then every person who gets a speeding ticket or gets arrested will be protesting in the streets that the cops are just trying to pad their pockets, And Sam, you would be the one leading the charge! Lastly, it seems your biggest gripe is the amount of taxpayer money "wasted" on police memorial week... my dear Sam, open your eyes. That amount of waste is miniscule compared to the massive waste going on every day in Washington DC. Sam, pick another battle and let the officers grieve their fallen.
Sam Clemens May 18, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Green Martian...I'm ok with "leaving this issue"......As you say, let them grieve their fallen as they should. It should be a private matter for them. And a well deserved one. And if this is all it is, I wouldn't be raising the stink. But when it transends the general population as "police week" then the question becomes equity with other parts of the population that don't have the union clout the police, prison guards, teachers, fireman have with the politicians. Many people work hard, many people have stressful rough jobs. Some get injured and killed at higher rates than police. Most don't get a "______ week" paid for at public expense. In third world countries, the power and money always lies with the politically well connected. Weath and power based on value creation are usually non issues in those places. We are clearly drifting in that direction. Compensation is one thing, worker quality is another. I don't know if police are over or underpaid. The only way to know is to see who you can hire at what price, and decide what "quality" you need. On the other hand, an organization that makes terminating the poor performers, and paying top performers extra is bound to be providing less good service than if they allowed such insane practices. "Atlas May Shrug" in America if you know the metaphor (or is it simile?)

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