2015 was a rough year for American law enforcement.
There has been a seemingly unending chorus of anti-police protests, accentuated by inflammatory and often dangerous rhetoric, which has inspired a hostility toward law enforcement that’s not been seen in decades.
While some might now think this is because corruption is endemic to law enforcement, the truth is that most police officers go above and beyond the call of duty each day to protect their communities.
The unfortunate and wholly inaccurate conclusion of widespread corruption is inspired more by innuendo, than by fact—and this is a problem.
Misperceptions of police can be costly, as they harm not just law enforcement, but whole communities as well. When the essential bonds of trust are broken between police and community, public safety becomes compromised.
To counter this false narrative, it is important to reflect upon some of the less publicized police-related activities of 2015, particularly those that emphasize America’s finest at their best.
Although the following stories never made the nightly news this past year, they represent just a fraction of the many examples of American law enforcement officers going above and beyond the call of duty to protect and serve their communities.
Here, from just the past few months, are a few examples:
Roeland Park, Kan.
In September, Officer Zachary Stamper of the Roeland Park Police Department, Kan., took it upon himself to obtain a bicycle and duffle bag for a local homeless man who he learned had to walk a very long distance to get to his place of work every day.
Instead of ignoring the man’s situation, Stamper did something proactive to help.
“As an officer, my job is to serve and protect, and this is what I’m doing to help my community. Ninety-nine percent of the officers that I’ve ever met would have done the same thing,” Stamper said.
Cedar Park, Texas
In October, a police officer in Cedar Park, Texas, pulled over an individual he saw driving with three young children in the back of the car, unsecured without car seats.
Instead of issuing a citation, Officers Justin Gower and Cale Hawkins decided to buy the man three car seats for his young girls, aged 1, 3, and 4.
The money for the car seats was paid for out of the pockets of Gower and Hawkins, among others at the department.
“Money is not the issue. It’s the issue of can you help them, and so that was the easiest way we saw, the fastest path to helping them,” Hawkins said.
In November an officer in Temecula, Calif., was called to a local mall to investigate a suspicious woman lingering near parked cars. What Officer Bruce Pierson discovered was a young woman, homeless since age 12, living on the streets with no shoes, dirty and calloused feet, and little to no prospects in life.
Instead of simply telling the young woman to leave the area, Pierson told the woman that he’d like to take her into the mall and buy her a new pair of shoes.
As he did so, the officer’s kindness inspired other shoppers to step in and help the woman with purchases of additional shoes and items.
Just this past month officers in Fremont, Calif., surprised a family with brand new gifts for under their Christmas tree after they suffered through a home burglary.
Police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, worked with local businesses to replace Christmas gifts for a family that had lost everything in a devastating house fire just days before Christmas.
The few examples cited above may not generate sensational headlines or draw the attention of celebrities and elected officials, but they far better represent the character of the American law enforcement community than the often baseless innuendo polluting the public discourse and driving a wedge between police officers and the communities they serve.
Let’s hope 2016 sees balance return to the public conversation on policing in America and a greater emphasis placed on the essential and positive role that police officers play in their communities every day.
From The Daily Signal