I don’t make it a habit to divulging my charitable giving or acts of kindness, as I was raised to be humble and quiet when giving. It’s better instead to let the joy of the Lord fill your heart for having the opportunity to help someone in a time of need or desperation.
But I’m going to make an exception this time. It was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day this past Monday and I feel that we should all show more support for the men and women in Blue who serve our communities.
After a meeting in LaGrange last week, I stopped off at a local restaurant for a quick bite to eat before heading back to the office. When I walked in I noticed a plain clothes state trooper waiting in line to place his order. A second state trooper walked in behind me a minute later and I motioned for him to move on up in front of me so that he could stand next to his brother in Blue.
When it came time for the 1st officer to order I approached the counter and quietly informed the cashier that I would be paying for both of their lunches.
Surprised by the act of kindness they each turned to thank me and said that I didn’t have to do that, of which I replied, “I know I don’t, but it would be my honor, and is my way to say thank you for all that you do.”
I didn’t try to make a big deal about it, and just smiled and asked them to stay warm and to be safe.
I tell you this not for any sort of recognition, but instead to challenge you to find your own way to show respect and appreciation for these fine men and women who put their lives in harm’s way every single day that they put the uniform on and head to work.
Think about this for a second: about 800,000 police officers earning an average annual salary of $53,194 will leave their families today to go protect yours, in a society that is growing less friendly to them.
These fine men and women go to work knowing that they may be disrespected, lied to, called names, challenged and possibly injured or killed, but they run towards the danger as a sheep dog would to protect his flock.
Police officers see and deal with the worst of humanity and they do so at great risk to their own lives. As a by-product of dealing with society’s rubbish it can make even the most even-tempered officer jaded, cynical and suspicious of people. That can sometimes come across as condescending at times when they are dealing with the public.
After a brief encounter with a police officer, even my college-aged son recently asked me why the officer was such a jerk to him after showing him respect. Being in those shoes before with a bit of wisdom behind me, I asked him how he would be if every day he went to work and dealt with drug addicts, pedophiles, rapist, wife and child abusers, robbers and thieves, where more than 80 percent of the people you deal with will either lie to you, curse you, disrespect you or possibly try to kill you, would you not be a jerk every now and then, I asked.
As a young teenager I can remember resenting authority and police officers as I felt that they were too quick to pass judgment on my innocent youthful indiscretions. Now this may or may have something to do with my receiving two reckless driving and one speeding ticket within a year’s time.
But over time as I grew into an adulthood with responsibilities, I quickly came to realize that these men and women are the moral fabric of our society, and without their professionalism and courage, our world would be far worse off.
Our criminal justice system may not be perfect all the time, but it is the best in the in the world, and when your world goes to hell, who do you call? A police officer.
For the first time in my lifetime I now am witnessing police officers go from heroes to zeroes on my TV screen, as I have witnessed them being cursed at, called despicable things, spit upon, threatened with violence to their families and being hunted down in our streets while they attempt to serve and protect our communities.
This week there is a debate in Congress about the hanging an anti-police painting artwork in our national capital depicting police officers as pigs. What, really?
In 2016, 140 police officers died in the line of duty while they tried to serve and protect our communities. Nearly half of those who were killed were fatally shot, including 21 police officers who died in different ambush-style attacks carried out across the country.
The rise in deaths of on-duty police officers follow racial tensions that stem from several high-profile fatal police shootings of unarmed black men.
These police officers don’t just issue tickets, make arrests and haul people to jail. Most perform acts of kindness and most never seek recognition for their actions. Some give toys, buy food or clothes for the homeless out of their own pockets. Many are working late shifts and long hours, which often times puts a huge strain on their marriages. Many suffer from marital issues, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and the suicide rate for their profession is significant.
When you encounter a police officer and treat him in a respectful manner, perhaps others will follow suit. We could all help balance this sometimes ugly world in which we live in today.
I realized that not everybody has the funds to pick up a meal for a police officer so let me suggest the following ideas to consider to show your respect and appreciation:
Respect for Police Officers Starts At Home. Teach your children to respect police officers. This foundation will carry through their lives as they mirror their parent’s behaviors later in life.
Offer up Your Place in Line. This simple gesture speaks volumes.
Shake a Police Officer’s Hand. This expresses gratitude and respect.
Hold the Door for An Officer. If you see a police officer walking behind you as you are entering a building, pause and wait and let them enter before you.
Donate Your Talents. You may not have an extra $50-$75 to pick up a police officer’s meal while he is dining with his family, but you can donate your talents. If you are a painter, mechanic, tax preparer, veterinarian, …etc. maybe you could offer your services for free as token of appreciation.
Pay For Their Groceries. Maybe you are blessed and have the extra income to knock off a police officer’s grocery bill for the week, while you are standing in line.
Mow Their Lawn. If a police officer lives next to you maybe you could mow their lawn for them, or send your son over to do it as gesture of appreciation.
Shovel Their Drive Way. Same as above.
Buy A Cup Of Coffee. For those third shifters or traffic cops working the game directing traffic on a cold night, a cup of Joe would mean a lot.
Leave a Note. A simple note left on the windshield or even a simple written prayer for their safety will warm the heart.
Write a Letter of Appreciation. Take a quick moment to write or call a police officer commanding officer to praise a police officer.
Prepay for a Treat. Drop by a police officer hangout, such as a coffee house or donut shop, and leave a few dollars to pay for their treats anonymously. Police officers are reluctant today to accept food from strangers for fear that they have been tampered with and this removes that fear.
Donate. Give to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Vote. Vote in favor of politicians who are in favor giving raises and more funding for life saving equipment to police officers, even if that includes raising local taxes to accomplish.
Prepay for Dry Cleaning. Ask for the owner or manager at your local drying cleaning and pay for the dry cleaning bill for a police officer that has his uniform being cleaned.
Speak Kindly. Okay I know this is hard to do, but what if you thanked a police officer while he’s in the process of giving you a ticket for something you just did, such as running a red light. Remember laws have to be enforced, or they mean nothing.
Support Businesses That Are Pro-Police. Today we are witnessing managers at local business turning police officers away because of their personal beliefs, which is their right. So instead give that support to businesses such as restaurants that offer free food to police officers, remember that business owner has to absorb those cost nevertheless.
Take Care of Their Family. Drop of a toy with a note of appreciation. Or if you coach youth sports take that police officer’s kid under your wing and assure that police officer that you will be a good role-model and mentor to their kid while he is out serving their community.
Share Good News. Counter balance the recent negativity about police officers by posting good deeds they perform.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Mathew 5:9.
Be Safe My Friends.
Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.