In 1962, President Kennedy designated May 15 as National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. And soon after, the month of May was designated as Law Enforcement Appreciation Month.
National Peace Officers Day honors law enforcement officers who have given the ultimate prize, their lives. In 2021, 632 officers died in the line of duty in the United States. So far in 2022, there have been 92.
Law enforcement officers put their lives in danger every day. Their selfless commitment to serving and protecting our communities comes with great sacrifice for them and their families.
The police see the most horrific events and must act immediately to keep the peace and help save lives. We must not forget that they do it day after day throughout their career. They are human beings with real feelings and emotions, and it is difficult to stop the events of the day at their doorstep.
It’s no wonder so many people struggle with mental health issues. According to the National Police Association, police suicide has been a concern for over twenty years. In 2021, there were 632 law enforcement deaths across the country and nearly 25% of them were self-inflicted.
Being in law enforcement is even harder these days with all the new strains placed on them, staffing shortages, skyrocketing crime, ambush worries, lax laws and lack of respect for what they do. And, as if that were not enough, the legislator passed a law where they can be sued civilly. All of these things have led to a severe shortage of officers which can impact our well-being and safety.
Additionally, police officers play the role of social workers, community organizers, counsellors, protectors, mediators, teachers, and even medical care providers. Pueblo police officers also act as coaches and mentors through their participation in the Pueblo Police Activities League (PPAL) by providing positive interactions through sportsmanship and relationship building.
In my opinion, there is no other profession more vital to a community than law enforcement and yet they seem to be the most looked down upon. The police are not perfect, just like us, but they do their best in the most difficult situation.
In support of local law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect others, Pueblo Police Chief Chris Noeller invites the community to attend our local law enforcement memorial event. May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Riverwalk, the location of the future Pueblo Law Enforcement Memorial just below the AT&T parking lot. This will be a joint event with the Pueblo Police Department, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol. The event will be followed by a reception at the Center for American Values where citizens can get more information about the Memorial Wall and how to show their support for this endeavor.
With May being Law Enforcement Appreciation Month, there are many things we can do as a community to show them that we care, but the most important thing is to just say “thank you”.
Betty Nufer is a community activist and cheerleader for those who need support to get through life’s tough times. She can be contacted at email@example.com.