In 2017 the population of the United States of America was 325.7 million people. The approximate number of law enforcement was 850,000. That translates to .26% of the population are sworn law enforcement personnel. The numbers alone states that law enforcement personnel are a rare breed of people.
Let’s consider what law enforcement personnel do and subjects themselves to consider the rational of this rare breed. It is not logical or rational to place oneself in harms way for complete strangers, but that is exactly what law enforcement personnel do. When people are running away from horrific events, it is law enforcement that is running towards the danger with the hope that they can help and save some of the innocent people involved. I can say from first hand knowledge there are many things you see and experience in this profession that you will never forget. Whenever you pass by the location of the event, you are forced to vividly recount the details of the event. So why would anyone subject themselves to such anguish and torture. I speak for myself and many of my counterparts. We do it because we have a profound sense of duty to our country and our community. We believe we can make a difference in other people’s lives. Law enforcement is a very tough and demanding job that has to be done. Most law enforcement personnel are similar to me, when confronted about a difficult job, we roll up our sleeves and dive in to complete the task, because it has to be done. I have been asked why I did the job, my response was if I don’t do the job, then who will? If the job doesn’t get done, it will be my children and their children to pay a heavier price of a destabilizing society.
Law enforcement officers are massively misunderstood, because most people can’t see themselves choosing to take the actions law enforcement officers take. Maybe for this reason people hold law enforcement to a different standard than themselves. The simple fact is that law enforcement personnel are people like anyone else. We have hopes, dreams, good & bad days, and we make mistakes just like everyone else. The problem with some of our mistakes, is that they are made very quickly in very intense situations. These mistakes are the most difficult for everyone to accept, including the person that will have to live with that mistake for the rest of their lives.
In our society today the national public opinion of law enforcement has deteriorated to the point that fewer and fewer people are choosing to be law enforcement. Good law enforcement officers are leaving the profession. They feel that they are putting themselves and their families at a huge liability risk, all the while being hated and not making a difference. Back in 2007 when I was originally certified as a Peace Officer there were over 100 viable applicants to every one good position in the Denver metro area. This meant that Police and Sheriff’s Offices could be very selective in who they are hired. Now you have agencies with open positions where they have trouble finding qualified people to put in the job. This forces agencies to hire people they would have never considered in the past and some of those hires are more liability risks than assets. Consider what happens when no one will answer the call for public service, it will be our children and their children that will pay the price of a fully destabilized society and government.
I am calling on all the younger generations and skeptics of law enforcement. If you believe that you can do a better job in difficult and demanding job, I strongly encourage you to take up the call for public service. We need more men and women willing to answer that call for the betterment of our communities and country. I for one will do everything in my power to make your jobs easier, through education and restoring the trust and appreciation of the communities they serve. We have long ways to go with a strenuous climb, but I am up to the task. We need to come together to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. For those that answer the call you have my respect and gratitude.
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; The tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”-Martin Luther King Jr.
Darron Spencer is the Award-winning author of Humane Policing: How Perspectives Can Influence Our Performance and founder of Humane Policing – Transforming Police Culture. For more information, visit humanepolicing.com.