National Police Week: Honoring Ethical Guardians

May 12, 2016 11:18 pm Last Updated: May 12, 2016 11:18 pm

As America pays special recognition to law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, the nation must pause.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the calendar week in which it falls as National Police Week.

These are challenging times for the law enforcement community due to the culture of violence throughout American society, as well as the controversies involving policing.

Yet, the fact remains that law enforcement is an honorable profession, and our ethical guardians serve America when honoring the badge and communities they protect.

Alarming Law Enforcement Fatalities

As of May 8, 2016, there is an alarming uptick in law enforcement fatalities according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

Compared to the same time frame last year, there are already 17 firearms-related fatalities, a 70 percent increase.

These statistics are alarming but never paint the picture of broken hearts suffered by family members and law enforcement communities.

We must honor these heroes by taking a moment to reflect on some of the recent tragedies of law enforcement officers gone too soon.

Top row: (L-R) Police Officer Steven M. Smith; Trooper Chad P. Dermyer; Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz. Lower row: Police Officer Allen Lee Jacobs; Police Officer Ashley Guindon. (Respectively: Courtesy of Columbus, Ohio Police Division; Virginia State Police; Howard County, Ind. Sheriff's Office; Greenville, S.C. Police Department; Prince William County, Va. Police Department)
Top row: (L-R) Police Officer Steven M. Smith; Trooper Chad P. Dermyer; Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz. Lower row: Police Officer Allen Lee Jacobs; Police Officer Ashley Guindon. (Respectively: Courtesy of Columbus, Ohio Police Division; Virginia State Police; Howard County, Ind. Sheriff’s Office; Greenville, S.C. Police Department; Prince William County, Va. Police Department)

Police Officer Steven M. Smith—He died two days after sustaining a gunshot wound on April 12. Officer Smith was a member of the Columbus, Ohio Police Division. He was shot while serving an arrest warrant as part of a SWAT team.

Trooper Chad P. Dermyer—He was a member of the Virginia State Police who was shot and killed on March 31 while interviewing a suspect who produced a handgun and shot him.

Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz—He was a member of the Hudson County, Ind. Sheriff’s Office. He was killed on March 21 while serving drug-related warrants.

Police Officer Allen Lee Jacobs—He was a member of the Greenville, S.C. Police Department. Officer Jacobs was shot and killed on March 18 while conducting a field interview. While approaching a self-identified gang member, the suspect fled the scene while opening fire on Officer Jacobs and his partner. Officer Jacobs was hit several times.

Police Officer Ashley Guindon—She was shot and killed on Feb. 27 while responding to a domestic dispute call. While the fatality of every ethical guardian wounds the heart of America, Officer Guindon’s death was uniquely heartbreaking. She was sworn in as a police officer only the day before, and it was her first shift as a Prince William County, Va. police officer.

Ethical Guardians: Earning Community Respect

While complementing the honoring of fallen offices during National Police Week, it is imperative to also appreciate the work of our police throughout the nation, particularly through daily acts of their service we easily take for granted, and community policing initiatives.

Although controversies deserve honest evaluations in order for policing to make these issues opportunities for renewal, and addressed in numerous other articles of mine, the purpose of this article is to honor the fallen and accentuate positive policing initiatives.

Vincent J. Bove delivering opening remarks at the Essex County, N.J. Police & Public Safety Expo, in Livingston, N.J., on May 7, 2016. (Courtesy of Vincent J. Bove Publishing)
Vincent J. Bove delivering opening remarks at the Essex County, N.J. Police & Public Safety Expo, in Livingston, N.J., on May 7, 2016. (Courtesy of Vincent J. Bove Publishing)

One positive community policing initiative took place on May 7 as a collaboration of the Essex County, N.J. Crime Prevention Officers Association and Essex County Chiefs of Police.

The event, held at the Livingston, New Jersey Mall was supported by numerous law enforcement agencies from throughout the state, as well as fire officials, first responders, and corporate professionals.

It was a statement of positive interaction with the community as hundreds of shoppers, including many children, took pictures with police officers.

Despite the law enforcement community being under scrutiny, this was an outstanding initiative building trust, respect, and rapport between the police and the people.

As a speaker during the opening ceremony, I encouraged the police in their roles as ethical guardians and commended them for keeping communities, families, and schools secure.

Final Reflections

America’s ethical guardians are vital to the security of our nation and all law-abiding citizens must honor their sacrifices and respect their efforts.

These are defining times for American policing and we will be successful with reawakening the nation when there is a committed unity of effort between law enforcement and our citizens.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com