Eighty-three law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty this year. Twenty-four of them were shot and killed in cold blood. That is 83 husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who will never make it home again for dinner, never celebrate another holiday with those they love, never return from that final shift protecting each and every one of us.
As we approach the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, I hope we will all take a step back and reflect on the critical role our law-enforcement officers play in communities across our state. Ours is a nation founded on respect for the rule of law and an understanding that our nation is grounded on a common, uniquely American moral code.
We know that there is good and evil in this world. We know that the powerful have an obligation to protect the weak. We know that all men are created equal and deserve the equal protection of the law. And so, every day, in communities across our state, brave men and women put on a uniform to defend the weak against the evil that is all too often all too real.
While the rest of us tuck our children in at night, these brave men and women respond to tragedies involving children they’ll never be able to forget. When we sit down for some peace and quiet on the weekend, they are being angrily honked at for directing traffic at the scene of an accident. As we go jogging for exercise, they run full-speed toward danger and the unknown.
In a society that is often focused on tweeting our every thought and Instagraming our lives, among us there are law-enforcement heroes selflessly living not to glorify themselves, but to protect all of us. They deserve nothing less than our respect and appreciation. Sadly, however, they are too often the target of disrespect and even violence these days.
Imagine pumping gas and fearing for your life simply because of the law-enforcement uniform you wear. Imagine being turned away at a restaurant because you are a police officer. Imagine reporting to a protest protecting those who are there to demonize you. For our law enforcement, those scenarios are a sad reality.
As Georgia’s lieutenant governor, I am committed to guaranteeing that our law-enforcement officers have the statutory and budgetary tools necessary to do their jobs. But the more important battle is ensuring they have the support of citizens across our state as they defend public safety. Without that, their jobs are much more difficult and dangerous.
Most of us are proud of the men and women who protect and serve us every day. Find a way to express your appreciation to an officer, teach your children to respect them and pray for their safety. Those who serve us deserve our support. I hope you’ll join me in making sure they know they’ve got it.