During my almost 20 years in law enforcement, I cannot recall a time when there seemed to be so much anger directed toward our community. We see it constantly in the media and in the violence against officers and deputies in the field. This may be the most dangerous time in modern history to be a law enforcement officer. But, simultaneously, we are seeing the largest outpouring of appreciation for our profession that we have experienced since 9/11. I have never had so many people take the time to stop what they are doing, walk over and just say thanks, want to shake my hand or pick up the tab for my cup of coffee. It really is tough to wrap your head around. The first few times I experienced this, I have to admit I was a little uncomfortable. I had always felt this type of appreciation was only reserved for those in military service. I reflected upon media accounts from Dallas and other places where citizens were interviewed after the fact. Even those who said the least, who clearly were not fans of law enforcement, talked of how they ran from danger while they watched the officers running toward the sounds of gunfire. Now, when someone offers a “Thank you for your service,” I am proud to just say “Thank you” in response and tuck that away in the back of my mind, knowing the vast majority of the public is truly thankful for the work we do.
Many of you have heard me speak of the pendulum of public sentiment. After 9/11, police officers and firefighters were all held in high regard. At PORAC LDF, criminal prosecutions of our members were at an all-time low. Over the last few years, the pendulum has swung and public safety seems to have fallen out of favor. It has become in vogue for local district attorneys to criminally charge a police officer or deputy, and an increasing number of juries find it acceptable or are even encouraged by the public and the media to find them guilty. Criminal prosecutions are now at an all-time high. Never has it been more important than today to have the backing of the PORAC LDF when you head out into the field.
The overwhelming number of citizens I see approaching officers to thank them for being there has given me hope that the pendulum is swinging back. The vast majority of citizens who value our work, who were always in our corner but not vocal about it, are no longer standing on the sidelines. They are voicing their support and forcing that pendulum back.
PORAC LDF continues to grow as public safety across the country sees the value and benefits we provide. We continue to be the largest legal plan in the nation because of the tremendous protection we offer. This month, I would like to welcome back to LDF the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County after their brief sabbatical from membership. Every individual is better off when we are together as a cohesive group. Welcome back.