ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
May 15th is a day worth noting. It comes around every year, but seems to get lost in the shuffle of other things like Memorial Day, the day
on which we honor those who lost their life in the military. Perhaps more than other years, recognizing and honoring our police officers
this particular year — the year in which there’s so much clamor about defunding the police and dishonoring them and what they do — even if the percentage of bad ”apples” as compared to good “apples” is very low. If I had to guess, I’d say that there are more bad “apples” out there in civilian-land and the business world compared to those who go into the police academies to become police officers and devote their time, their energy, their effort and even their life to the cause of spending their work hours and beyond, and even their whole careers doing what police officers do to not only keep the peace, but to intervene where there is a need to ward off violence or harm or remove the source of that violence or harm; to save lives and mitigate trouble wherever the need arises.
Most of us have probably had some interaction with the police, even if that interaction was only getting caught speeding. But since their job is to stop situations that are both illegal (such as our speeding) and dangerous or life threatening (such as stopping a car out of control or a holdup or a physical attack on any person at all), we never know when their services will be needed — and needed right then and there and right quickly too.
No one particularly likes it when they’re stopped for speeding, but if the person who was stopped kept up the speeding with no one to slow it down, you’d feel differently about their job description and dedication to it if the speeder “accidentally” ran into and killed an innocent person, a child, but the speeder just kept on going without slowing down for anything or anyone on the road. And what if the person the speeder hit was your mother or your best friend? And what if the speeder had been drinking? You can see how the act of speeding is the attention-getter for the police officer, but stopping the driver can possibly save a life, and someday it may even be your own.
All police officers take a chance when they go up to a vehicle they have just stopped, for whatever reason. They know it, and you may know it too. So to help keep their stress level down, we, the people they might have to stop, can make the situation less stressful all around by keeping the annoyance or frustration inside and greeting the officer in a peaceful manner and just doing whatever the officer asks of us. If we have any major complaints, it will be best if we hold onto the complaint for later on, when we go to pay our fine or have to show up in court. We may only have this happen to us once in a blue moon, while the officer may have to approach many vehicles in a single day.
So how can we make a police officer’s life less stressful at any time in any situation? It won’t always be easy for us, but we can start with the simple and small things that anyone can do — if they put their mind to it and care enough to help make the peace officer’s day a little smoother. We can be polite, respectful, and give the officer the benefit of the doubt. You will likely know what you just did to catch the officer’s eye, and what you plan to do about it, but other than seeing what you did that appeared to be illegal to the officer, he or she cannot know what else you’ve been up to, or if you have a gun in the car, or plan to drive away or create an impossible situation for the both of you to get through without incident. Try to see yourself and the situation you find yourself in through the officer’s eyes. Don’t argue. That can be saved for when you go to court. Don’t say or do anything that might cause the officer to be concerned about his safety.
Every year, Peace Officers Memorial Day falls on May 15th. It’s a day on which we honor all the fallen police officers; it’s an observance day in the United States that pays tribute to the local, state, and federal peace officers who have died, or who have been disabled, in the line of duty. Celebration events are sponsored by the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and are implemented by the FOP Memorial Committee. It took a year from its creation on October 1, 1961, when Congress authorized the president to designate a day (May 15) to honor peace officers to when President Kennedy signed the bill into law one year later, on October 1, 1962.
Because we don’t have another day in the year to honor and celebrate all the living police officers as we do for the Military and veterans, Peace Officers Memorial Day was extended to become Police Week (or National Police Week) as long as the week included May 15 for the fallen Peace Officers Memorial Day.
The Proclamation for the day included such words as, “… the police officers of America have worked devotedly and selflessly in behalf of the people of this Nation, regardless of the peril or hazard to themselves; and … these officers have safeguarded the lives and property of their fellow Americans; and … these same officers have given our country internal freedom from fear of the violence and civil disorder that is presently affecting other nations; and … these men and women by their patriotic service and their dedicated efforts have earned the gratitude of the Republic … be it [r]esolved …[t]hat the President is authorized and requested to issue proclamations … designating May 15 of each year as Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of the Federal, State, and municipal officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty, … directing the officials of the Government to display at half-staff the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on such day, etc. etc. in recognition of
the service given by the men and women who, night and day, stand guard in our midst to protect us through enforcement of our laws, and … inviting the governments of the States and communities and the people of the United States to observe such day and week with appropriate
ceremonies and activities, including the display at half-staff of the flag of the United States.
“And … to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and to voice our appreciation
for all those who currently serve on the front lines of the battle against crime, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved October 1, 1962 … has authorized …”
And so it came to be. No matter the color of the uniform — light blue, dark blue, Black, or some shade of tan, peace officers all need our
appreciation. They do their job for us.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.