July 22, 2016
As I reflect upon the hateful events that have taken place in Baton Rouge this past Sunday, I am deeply saddened for the families of the brave men and women of the Louisiana law enforcement community. I'm shocked and appalled by this cowardly act that senselessly took the lives of Officers Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola, not to mention those injured in this deadly encounter. Each of these men were fathers and husbands. I'm sure each loved his family, community and each hoped for a brighter future for their children and society as a whole.
Sadly, these events and those in Dallas and other communities in crisis, illustrate how social ills left untreated can result in societal chaos. As communities, we often don't think about the challenging expectations we place on law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency responders and dispatchers. We expect that when we pick up the phone and call 911 officers are equipped and trained to immediately de-escalate any and all situations they encounter. While this is often true and the outcomes are generally successful, this is not always the case. Many officers are faced with limited training, resources, manpower and minimal community support. Fortunately, in the Park City area, our officers and deputies are highly trained, educated and experience phenomenal support from our community.
This is not to minimize the intense dangers law enforcement officers face daily. Some might wonder why these brave women and men would be willing to risk their lives on a daily basis. Thankfully, most officers feel a much higher calling to the communities they serve. We see this same trait in other public servants, such as firefighters, teachers and medical personnel.
The troubling difference between law enforcement officers and other public servants is this: today's law enforcement officers are literally being targeted by some for wearing the badge and uniform while providing for all of our public safety. Let us not forget that police officers are also mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
I truly believe that officers recognize the importance of the oath they have personally taken to safeguard the citizens they have sworn to protect and defend. Recognizing this may require them to someday pay the ultimate sacrifice. Officers are innately aware of this risk when they join the force. However, officers didn’t sign up to be senselessly ambushed or sniped for wearing a uniform and badge.
In these tumultuous times, law enforcement needs to know the community has their backs. To this point, and in closing, I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to our community. Yesterday, I was personally stopped on Main Street and was thanked for our officers' dedicated service. I then went to my office to check emails and learned that both of my captains have received similar messages of support for the police department from members of our community.
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Following the Dallas shooting, the Park City Police Department was inundated with random acts of kindness. From food deliveries to letters and cards of appreciation for our officers who service our citizenry. This was a heartwarming experience to witness. I know we are truly blessed to serve in an area that recognizes the value of all life and appreciates diversity, differing opinions and seeks for solutions vs. looking to find faults and weaknesses.
During my past 20 years as a police chief and 28 years as a peace officer in both rural and metropolitan areas, I have never personally observed an officer abandon his or her community or responsibility during times of crisis, chaos, disaster or at times of gunfire or personal assault. I say this not to impress you, but to impress upon you the personal commitment these humble servants have for the people they have sworn an oath to protect. God bless our community and all that serve throughout the nation and world to protect our way of life.