Officers deserve appreciation

Officers deserve appreciation

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Officers deserve appreciation

Recognize our neighbors performing this difficult, thankless service

In the days following the recent shooting death of Alamogordo police officer Clint Corvinus, it rained in Alamogordo.

In the days following the recent shooting death of Hatch police officer Jose Chavez, it rained in Doña Ana County.

When former Alamogordo police officer Al Marchand died in one of the hijacked planes flown into the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001, it rained in Alamogordo for a solid week.

I’m not trying to make a dramatic statement that the sky was crying in the wake of these tragic incidents, but the gloom was definitely appropriate.

If you know a law enforcement officer, I hope you recently have given that officer an extra appreciation lately.

The past few years, law enforcement officers have frequently been all over the TV news, sometimes for the wrong reasons.

In sports, ever since the advent of the instant replay, millions of Americans have become armchair quarterbacks, criticizing every athlete’s plays and every coach’s decisions. Multiple sports cable channels, the Internet and social media have magnified the looking glass and amplified the echo chamber.

The same thing is true for these nationalized police incidents. Unfortunately, the average American knows even less about law enforcement than about sports.

First of all, being a law enforcement officer is an incredibly difficult job. The job features days, months, sometimes years of mundane, routine activity that can instantly, with no warning, turn into a life-ordeath situation. Officers sometimes face such bizarre and unusual situations that no level of training could properly prepare.

The funeral for Officer Chavez took place in the Pan American Center at New Mexico State University Aug. 21. Eerily, during the actual service just about a mile away, Las Cruces police officers faced an unusual situation that resulted in the shooting death of a suspect.

Secondly, being a law enforcement officer is typically a thankless job. For most Americans, the most common interaction with a law enforcement officer is during a traffic stop. If you’re pulled over for speeding, or running a stop sign or some other reason, the immediate reaction is frustration. No one is ever happy with the officer, and most citizens are on the defensive. The average citizen sees the stop as a nuisance, but every officer has to see every such a stop as a potential life-or-death situation.

Of course, we know not every law enforcement officer is perfect. As in every other profession, there are people who are truly outstanding, and there are people who are ineffective, unproductive or even incompetent. The vast majority of law enforcement officers, though, are like the vast majority of workers in most professions: They are basically good human beings, working hard to do the right thing and earn a paycheck to help support their families.

Most are like Al Marchand, whom I observed firsthand performing his duties as an Alamogordo police officer. Marchand was appropriately stern and tough with criminals while simultaneously being compassionate and helpful with victims.

All jobs these days are stressful, but there’s no denying the stress of a law enforcement officer carries an extra burden of danger and risk.

With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 still fresh, along with the memory of local police officers dying violent deaths, it is appropriate to join with the sentiments of our Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.

Last week, Miyagishima encouraged citizens to start a “thank you” campaign, and actively thank local, state, regional and federal officers. It makes sense to recognize their commitment, bravery and, above all, their service to our community.

Thank you.

Fellow law enforcement officers and many others honor fallen Hatch police officer Jose Chavez at his funeral at the Pan American Center. Chavez was killed during a traffic stop in August.

RICHARD COLTHARP

From the Publisher

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