Timing in life is so often serendipitous. Case in point: I spent last Saturday night in a police cruiser as part of Glenwood Springs City Council training, since then I’ve been singing the praise of the Glenwood Springs Police Department and then coincidentally, saw that National Peace Officers Memorial Day is Saturday, May 15. It seemed appropriate to share with the community my experience while simultaneously encouraging some well-deserved recognition for our local police department.
My “ride-along” started at 8 p.m. May 8. After five hours of eye-opening experiences and thoughtful conversations with the officers, I drove home (at the speed limit of course) at 1 a.m. That is so, so late for me. For the officers at our local department, 1 a.m. is mid-shift.
These officers are the heroes that arrive at emergencies any time, day or night, in your homes, on our roadways, Christmas, Easter, their birthday, their kids’ birthdays and every other day of the year, because they are always on duty. They’re also the officers that remove drunk drivers from the roads so you and your loved one can travel safely. Often the first to arrive and the last to leave as they provide support in all types of emergency situations.
While the feeling of being pulled over is unpleasant, I saw firsthand how vulnerable a police officer is walking up to a car not knowing who or what they may encounter. My guess is that when you send your spouse to work, the potential for their bodily harm is relatively low. That’s not the case for the spouses, parents, children and family of our law enforcement family.
I have always had respect for this industry, now I have even more admiration, awareness and an incredible respect. I wish you all could do a ride-along. The amount of training every officer has is significant. Those on the force for any length of time, that amount of training would shock you. I met an officer who has a log book with almost 4,000 hours of training. That’s not rare. These guys are so incredibly educated, intelligent and on point. Meaning at 12:30 a.m. when I was hours past my bedtime and my eyes wanted to close, they’re wide awake and with an attention to detail that anticipates, identifies and resolves concerns before they become a problem.
We have the luxury of feeling safe in our small town. That’s not because crime doesn’t happen here; we are not immune to the ugly results of choices made by others. That feeling of safety and security is maintained and nurtured in large part by our police and emergency services.
I hope this illustrates that while the news sources share stories that cast doubt on law enforcement, I have zero doubt that with few exceptions, we are fortunate to have these quality humans. Professionals who have careers filled with the worst humans have to offer. They are fellow community members who stay in their jobs not for the money, and certainly not for the fanfare (that’s lean these days), but for what they’re able to give to their communities and the impassioned desire to serve, protect and do what’s right.
Please take the time to teach your children respect for law enforcement, while you’re at it, reinforce right and wrong. It’s time we all take accountability and responsibility for the problems within the system. Don’t pass the buck, identify your part.
I’ll leave you with a thought, especially for those formulating a response to counter my perspective with an alternative perspective or potential negativity: pause. Instead, take that same energy and reflect on the positive or work on a solution. Our society has more than enough negativity at the moment, more than enough polarity and enough opinions to last a lifetime. Let’s use our energy wisely, use it building up our fellow person, being an example to be proud of, teaching respect by demonstrating it.
Be that change in our community, starting today, and in particular on May 15. Let’s show gratitude to our officers, be it a wave out your car window, a kind word when you see them on foot or something that resonates with you. Thank you all for being my community.
Ingrid Wussow is a Glenwood Springs city councilor.