In light of all that is going on across the country regarding law enforcement, this might be a good time to pause and recognize the brave men and women of the Gilroy Police Department.
I’m not writing this to criticize or defend the actions of any individuals involved in recent events. Instead, I’m simply calling to mind the police officers in our community who proudly wear the uniform every day knowing the risks involved when they walk out their door saying goodbye to their spouse and kids.
Each year there are approximately 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers resulting in more than 16,000 injuries. Sadly, over the last decade, 146 officers per year have been killed in the line of duty. On average, one law enforcement officer loses his or her life every 61 hours while wearing the badge. It’s a stark reminder of what every officer knows when they put their uniform on each day—and that is, they may face a situation where deadly force is used, and that deadly force may be used on them.
In spite of this, Gilroy’s finest help those in need, address concerns as they arise and do all they can to keep the peace in our community. These men and women are husbands, fathers, wives and mothers who not only protect and serve their families, they protect and serve families and individuals they don’t know and have never met. They give of their personal time and effort to help various organizations, work at their children’s schools, help underprivileged youth, serve in their churches, coach Little League, are members of nonprofit boards and donate money to community causes. They do all of this not because it’s part of their job description, but because they love this community, its people, and like so many of us, want the very best for Gilroy.
While on duty, officers have little idea what they are walking into when they arrive on a scene. Even a routine car stop is no longer routine. Every situation has potential for danger. Most of us who work in Gilroy don’t think twice about arriving home after a long day at the office. Unlike police officers, we don’t sign an employment agreement or swear an oath to lay down our lives for others if the need arises.
In his 1986 Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery, President Ronald Reagan said of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, “They stood for something, and we owe them something.”
I can’t help but to feel the same way about the people in law enforcement. The men and women who laid down their lives serving their communities stood for something.
And we owe them something. We owe them our respect and gratitude. Gilroy is a desirable location and for good reason. The Gilroy Police Department, from its chief to its leadership team to the officers on the street, work tirelessly to keep Gilroy’s residents safe and to minimize crime. It’s not an easy job and very few people can do it well. We are fortunate to have so many well-trained, hardworking men and women who selflessly serve this community and who proudly bear the title, Gilroy Police Officer.
The next time you see a one of Gilroy’s finest, be sure to say thank you, and let them know how much you appreciate their commitment to our safety and our community.
Mark Turner is president of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.