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Written by Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress   

Keepers of peace worthy of thanks

     Police officers have a thankless job. Worse, they regularly witness the worst side of humanity, which can be a recipe for losing heart and hope.

     If the majority of your day, your week, or your career is observing and dealing with mankind’s ugly moments, life can become rather blue over time.

     Sadly, their heroic work is generally not regarded as heroic outside their own ranks. People expect them to be perfect amidst a very imperfect world.

     Perhaps we forget just how much peacekeepers actually do for us. Here is a glimpse of what we as a community ask of our peacekeepers. First and most obvious, we ask that they keep the peace between humans who don’t know how or want to.

     It’s the peacekeeper who is asked to wade into petty, premeditated, or perilous wars between neighbors at all hours of the day or night. They often sacrifice their family life for our family life.

     We ask them to bring peace to angry or abusive domestic situations, address drunken or drug crazed nuisances or dangers, remove violent threats of every sort, and talk sense into angry or mischievous children bent on destroying property or relationships.

     Peacekeepers are also expected to help serve in countless ways. We expect them to jump into frigid rivers to save children, stop drunk drivers before they kill or destroy, round up the neighbor’s cows or horses, change a flat tire for a stranded widow, perform welfare checks, stop speeders, and arrest one of their own when he’s crossed the line.

     The peacekeeper rescues injured people from mashed vehicles, directs traffic, and counsels children to do and be good.

     They deal with all the elements of broken relationships and broken lives. They don’t receive happy calls. They respond to something that has or is going to go bad. The bulk of their labor never makes the news yet they must always be prepared to answer a call from the media in an intelligent and helpful way without compromising an investigation.

     They must be language experts. They must be able to talk a cook into dropping the knife, explain to parents that their daughter perished in a rollover, and give the how to be a man talk to a troubled teenage boy.

     Their job requires immediate response to a place they may or may not be familiar with during imperfect conditions with incomplete or inaccurate information from which they may be forced to make a split-second decision.

     It’s common for them to hear a stream of epithets—occasionally of Shakespearean variety—in attempting to make peace, Insults are likely. Being spit on—or worse—is possible.

     The officer must always watch his back yet be calm, genuinely friendly and courteous.

      Due to breakdowns in the justice system, peacekeepers commonly deal with repeat offenders.

     The peacekeeper is entrusted with investigating thoroughly, timely, and fairly. They simultaneously hear they are policing too soft or too strict.

     They put their life on the line in myriad ways by dodging bullets, out of control automobiles, flying debris, or burnout. There is no guarantee of backup.

     It’s varied work to be sure, but the substance is mostly in the realm of negative. Someone is either threatening, abusing, stealing, hurting, or destroying something. Attempting to make peace is not always welcomed by some.

     The officer must discern truth and gather facts through a fog of lies, misperception, miscommunication, incoherence, and emotion.

     It’s not a job that typically pays well. Strapped budgets are what they are and peacekeepers can expect between meager and almost fair. It’s likely they will be told many more times what they are doing wrong than right.

     Sometimes, a life is saved, a fence mended, a thank you ushered. But it’s few and far between. And the peacekeeper barely has a moment to absorb it before the next call.

     It’s a tough but necessary job full of up and down surprises. Though peacekeepers don’t generally seek attention they still need to be told that they are important and valued. They deserve our thanks. They need our prayers and praise.

     For all who wear the badge with integrity and honor, you are a very great blessing.

 

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