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We’ve told you a lot about National Hurricane Preparedness Week recently. It was commemorated May 9-15.

But did you know last week was also National Police Week? Among the virtual events were programs delivered by the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum. The programs are designed to keep current officers safe and healthy.

In addition, ceremonies were held to honor fallen officers whose names have recently been added to the Memorial. Including a Candlelight Vigil streamed on social media. 

In-person events have been scheduled for October 13-17 in Washington, D.C. Law enforcement, survivors and citizens will gather to pay tribute to officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. 

It started nearly 60 years ago 

The genesis for National Police Week occurred in 1962. That’s when President John Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. 

National Police Week was established that same year by a joint resolution of Congress.   

From the start, this week was designated to pay special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others. 

The principal organizers are the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, and Concerns of Police Survivors.

Walk a mile in their shoes

Last year was a rough one for just about every American. In addition to the pandemic, there were record-breaking extreme weather events. Plus a very contentious presidential election. 

In addition, there was civil unrest in a number of cities and attacks on law enforcement. Some people even called for defunding the police. 

I wonder if any of those people ever put themselves in the shoes of police officers who devote their careers to serving and protecting others.

From local, state and federal, their duties command dedication. The jobs are often thankless and take them away from their families for long hours. Rarely do they know what their days have in store for them. 

You need help, officers need answers

Just imagine this for a second…

It’s 3 a.m. and you bounce out of bed from a deep sleep to the sound of your back door being kicked in. The first thought for the vast majority of Americans is to call 9-1-1.

At this point your expectations are, “please hurry,” “save my family’s lives” and “I don’t want to die.” All very understandable emotional responses to a home invasion.

Now, put yourself in the position of law enforcement having just received this 9-1-1 call for distress.

What questions are running through this officer’s mind?

  • Are there lives at risk?
  • Hostages?
  • Injuries?
  • Is the intruder potentially deadly, under the influence, mentally hazardous, armed?
  • Do I have backup?
  • What is the floor plan of the home?
  • Will I get in trouble? Is my life at risk?

These are just a few of the questions law enforcement officers ask themselves every time they answer a call. Really, every time they gear up for a shift.

Protecting, defending and serving

People should walk in those shoes for a minute before they judge or discount what our men and women in law enforcement have to face every time they show up for duty.

I have yet to meet the perfect person. Mistakes are made in every walk of life. Including SEAL Teams and law enforcement.

I also have yet to meet someone who has decided to pursue a career in law enforcement – including close friends and family members – who did so with malicious intent.

To a man and woman, they simply wanted to “protect, defend and serve.” It surely isn’t for the money!

My advice when dealing with law enforcement

Whether you’ve just been pulled over for speeding or have found yourself as a hostage during a bank robbery, I highly suggest you follow this advice.

Understand that law enforcement is responding to an unknown situation that could result in that officer’s death.

“The sooner I feel less stressed, the better the outcome.”
LAPD SWAT Officer

Responding law enforcement often has NO idea what they are walking into. And for their self-preservation each one must approach every situation with the highest degree of alertness. Here’s how you can help them do their job.

  • Show the highest degree of respect.
  • Don’t make any sudden or aggressive movements.
  • Ask permission before any actions.
  • Don’t pose a threat!
  • Put them in their comfort zone.

Nobody’s perfect

Every organization makes mistakes. How would you live your life under a microscope?

Imagine having to put on a body cam every time you clocked into work.

Now, I personally had issues with law enforcement that I felt were unjust. There is a path for dealing with this. But when you find yourself in any situation with law enforcement, I highly advise you to follow the steps above.

And again, be honest and ask yourself, “Would I trade places with this officer?”

This might give some clarity. And let’s be honest. If you were speeding, you got caught and it’s only your fault. It’s time to face the music. 

God Bless our Folks in Blue.

Be a survivor… not a statistic,
Cade Courtley
Former Navy SEAL / 4Patriots Contributor

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