No need to worry

Published 10:33 pm Friday, September 13, 2013

For most of us, police officers are simply a necessary part of life in a fallen world. We understand the need for the service they provide, we acknowledge the fact they are there to encourage order in a disordered universe and we even appreciate that they put their lives in danger when they sign in for service each day. But most of the time, the acknowledgement and appreciation are an exercise in abstraction.

Once in a while, though, and usually in the midst of some terrible tragedy, their sacrifice becomes tangible. So it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when police officers joined firefighters in the doomed stairwells of the World Trade Center. So it was in Newtown, Conn., when police officers rushed to Sandy Hook Elementary School to confront a gunman who was mercilessly murdering children and their teachers. So it was in 2012, when a police officer was beaten nearly to death by a convicted felon who had stolen a car and attacked the officer who pulled him over in Suffolk.

Such situations give us stark reminders of the potential dangers police officers face each day and the courage it must take to strap on a police duty belt and pin a badge onto a dark blue uniform with the understanding that each traffic stop, each domestic violence call and each fight he or she breaks up can end in deadly violence.

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We were reminded of this humbling truth this week during a promotion ceremony for the Suffolk Police Department, where eight members of the city’s police force took on new duties associated with their new positions. Some promotions were results of a departmental reorganization, and others came about through retirements. Each of the promoted officers, however, represents the culmination of years of training, hard work, dedication to community and commitment to a greater good.

Continuing a tradition in Suffolk, Maj. Steve Patterson delivered remarks at the ceremony Thursday at the First Lady. “We are a force to be reckoned with,” he said to his fellow officers, as well as friends, family and city officials assembled for the event. Noting that Suffolk’s citizens rely on the police department to protect life and property, he said, “We cannot let them down.”

With folks like Patterson and the others promoted on the police force Thursday, being let down by their law enforcement officers is one thing about which folks in Suffolk need not worry.