Recent tragedies show challenges law enforcement faces

John Dyer
Rifle Police Chief
Rifle Police Chief John Dyer
Staff Photo |

The past week has been a very difficult one in the law enforcement profession.

First, the two police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota have reminded me of the impact of the split-second decisions the police have to make every day.

Secondly, the police deaths in Dallas have reminded me of the danger we face by the act of putting on a police uniform.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the Dallas police officers killed, and the Dallas Police Department itself, which lost five of their brothers, and had seven injured, in a senseless act of violence.

Also sad is that on July 8, a Missouri police officer was ambushed and shot in the neck while walking back to his car during a routine traffic stop, and because of the rush of events in the past week, has had very little coverage.

For the past 32 years, I have been very proud of the work that I do, and I am also proud of the work the Rifle Police Department employees do every day of the year in the service of the Rifle community.

In spite of this pride I have for the men and women in law enforcement, while texting with my daughter, I expressed some doubt in being able to recommend this profession to a young person just starting out. This is how she responded:

“You should be proud of the good work you and so many others do. I sure hope young folks, like you once were, keep looking to policing as an admirable career. Love you John. Make sure to take care of yourself, and your crew. You have some good ones”.

Next, I received the following email from Sgt. Wilson, who had been working through the weekend:

“Dustin (officer Marantino) and I just had a meal at Burger King, when the clerk came up to us and informed us that a young woman in the drive-thru had just bought us milk shakes. Dustin and I walked out and thanked her for her offer, but politely declined. Her eyes welled up with tears as she told us the story of her brother, a new Dallas police officer, who is enduring such a tragic event in his career. You could tell how much she wanted to be there for him and this spontaneous exchange was something she needed to do to heal. It was a very touching moment. We told her how our Rifle PD family hurts for their family. I tell you this because people in this world do care. They care about us. They care about the Dallas Police Department. Most importantly, the majority of people in this world truly care about our mission. Don’t let recent events change who we are, what we do and why we do it”.

Lastly, I was reminded of the outpouring of support when Mesa County deputy Derek Geer was killed on Feb. 8, and is still evident whenever I see a blue strip on the back of a vehicle.

In echoing Sgt. Wilson’s thoughts, I have spoken to many of our officers about the difficult nature of the job we do.

On the one hand, we always have to be vigilant to the dangers we face, and always practice sound officer safety practices.

On the other hand, we cannot let these dangers separate us from the very people we are sworn to protect and serve. We are part of our communities, and as such, must reach out to everyone, with respect and dignity, in performing our duties.

Officer safety and community interaction are not mutually exclusive. We can stay safe in our job while interacting with our families, neighbors, friends and residents of Rifle.

The men and women of the Rifle Police Department love this community, and are devoted to serving and making this the great community it is.

This past week has reminded me of a training officer I had 32 years ago, who told me I should never shake anyone’s hand while working, as I do not know if their motivation might be to hurt me. I believe I speak for everyone here when I say that the day I can’t shake the hand of a community member is the day I quit this profession, as it goes against everything we believe in.

To any young person out there who wants a profession filled with service and sacrifice for the communities in which we are a part of, I wholeheartedly recommend a career in law enforcement.

John Dyer is the police chief of the Rifle Police Department.


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