Pride in Policing

Pride in Policing

By Stephen Owsinski

I started seeing more posts from police organizations heralding their officers for staying the course, for dutifully braving the frontlines in the incendiary face of anarchy and malevolence beefed up by antithetical government policies and putrid anti-police messaging.

This material is not only to honor those cops who attended a roll call for the last time and drove off with a shadowbox for the wall at home. Anyone who ever pins a justice badge, for any era, immediately garners respect for making such a selfless decision despite life-threatening implications.

Among law enforcement organizations announcing hiring their latest academy graduates, Welcome statements invariably start with “We are proud to have these new officers join our agency…”

(Photo courtesy of the Town of Addison Police Department.)

In January 2017, the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey about Police Culture. In it, the mention of “pride” by police respondents is prevalent.

“A majority of police (58%) say their work as a law enforcement officer nearly always or often makes them feel proud. But nearly the same share (51%) say their work often makes them feel frustrated. A large majority (79%) say they have been thanked by someone for their police service in the past month, but almost as many (67%) say they have been verbally abused by a member of their community while on duty during that same period. And when asked whether they view themselves more as protectors or enforcers, roughly six-in-ten police officers (62%) say they fill both of these roles equally,” reported Pew researchers.

The Pew study contains a section titled “Police say they feel pride in their work more often than fulfillment,” elucidating that “Among those who nearly always or often feel pride in their work, only 37% also say they regularly feel frustrated by their job.”

Nowadays, the frustration levels are likely higher thanks to an anti-cop loom brewed by certain political figures and the minions who can’t/refuse to decipher fact from fiction, making life miserable for law enforcement practitioners.  

The Baltimore Police Department published a note of gratitude to their police personnel, esteeming them for showing up and devoting their lives to the safety of those they serve, planned event or otherwise:

“We at the Baltimore Police Department would like to express our utmost appreciation to our dedicated officers and valuable partners for their exceptional efforts in ensuring the safety and success of this year’s Baltimore Running Festival.

(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Police Department.)

“We would also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the runners and volunteers who bravely endured the rain. Your unwavering commitment is truly commendable, and we salute each and every one of you.”

That coincided with the newest jihad being bandied about. Did your newsfeed blow up with end-of-time messaging? Either way, cops were out there in the thick of all the doom and gloom telegraphing, real or perceived.

The nation’s deficit in law enforcement officers trying to get a grip on burgeoning crime, despite thinned ranks, still forge forward to lasso the mayhem. One can imagine what that monumental task does to the psyche of anyone sworn to uphold public safety. That had me pondering mindsets, especially in the context of today’s sordid society. The grotesque condemnation and devaluation of crimefighters is unrelenting. Yet cops show up and show out, many performing the job they aspired to since childhood.

Ordinarily due to politics, some law enforcement agencies have been faced with being disbanded and becoming defunct. I came across one such example that exemplified the dissolution of a police department…until its community’s residents/merchants showed up to voice full support and pride in their police force.

According to the Lancaster News, Ephrata Borough President Tom Reinhold stated he was “proud and thankful” that “the township board and the residents wanted to keep local [police] coverage.”

(Screenshot courtesy of WHTM YouTube.)

With modest, local government favoring its team of crimefighters over contracting police services to outside sources [usually paying a county sheriff’s office, thereby forfeiting most if not all control of public safety assets], Ephrata Township Police Chief Chris McKim replied, “We are thrilled to continue our long-term relationship that we’ve worked very hard to build. We’re very proud of the officers of the department in the way they have served the township, and we look forward to continuing to serve them in a fine manner.”

Perhaps one of the most illustrative layers of pride in policing is witnessed during every cop’s lump-in-throat sendoff of slain brothers and sisters, with synchronistic flow and precision portrayed by Honor Guard cops, with mourning bands’ elasticity stretched too many times but withstanding the many applications. I’m starting to see the permanence of mourning bands, constructed into police memorials.

(Photo courtesy of the San Jose Police Department.)

In the image above we witness picture-perfect-pride of two police officers in formal uniform

All of whom once raised their hand and proudly proclaimed “I do,” attesting the willingness to tackle the gargantuan mission of safeguarding countless people, even if it means laying down their own lives. New memorials are a foregone conclusion that they’ll be needed, a statement of how deeply our society has spiraled.

Can you think of any professions that solemnly implement such structures on behalf of cohorts who may not make it home?

A few come to my mind: law enforcement, fire services, and military members.

In May 2005, the Beloit Daily News published a piece titled “Proud to be a police officer,” portraying the annual pilgrimage of cops from all over the nation to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, exuding solemnity for the fallen and pride to be in the profession in which these brothers and sisters fought gallantly.

That pilgrimage of America’s LEOs plays out every year…in what I would classify as quiet pride. The police memorials I have attended/experienced in uniform and retirement remain indelible.

It is sobering. Nevertheless, we still see the glorious smiles on the faces of police academy graduates, beaming with pride for the role only a minority accept, knowing fully the pitfalls and monsters around the corners.

(Photo courtesy of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.)

As Seneca once said, “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

I find that philosophy applicable to so much of society today, namely the people who pin that badge and go out there with pride, representing the public safety profession, despite the minefield of monsters, knowing that it may not be a round trip.

As Pew researchers noted throughout their Police Culture study, “Pride is a common sentiment…”