Take time to thank an officer on Friday

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, January 7, 2015

With negative publicity leading to increased violence against police officers seemingly on the upswing around the country, partnering organizations in support of law enforcement officials are taking the offensive.

One such weapon to combat the negativity is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, or LEAD. It is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 9, around the country.

The National Sheriff’s Association and Fraternal Order of Police are just two of the law enforcement organizations that support the day of appreciation. Washington Parish law enforcement officials also ardently support LEAD. The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, Bogalusa Police Chief Joe Culpepper and Franklinton Police Chief Donald Folse all said the show of support for police officers everywhere is truly appreciated.

”Of course, we’re always excited about honoring our officers,” Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Haley said. “They get so little appreciation. The Sheriff’s Office doesn’t belong to any one individual. It belongs to the parish. This day is sorely needed. Our officers don’t ask for much except for an occasional ‘thank you, sir,’ or a ‘thank you, ma’am.’”

According to statistics released by COPS, or Concerns of Police Survivors, approximately 780,000 police officers around the country report to work daily despite the inherent dangers. COPS said around 100-200 officers die each year in the line of duty. It added that 50,000 officers are assaulted each year, and 14,000 officers are injured. COPS also noted that 300 officers commit suicide each year.

Some 118 police officers in 2014 were killed in the line of duty. That number included 47 officers killed by gunfire, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

There are a number of suggestions citizens can show their support for law enforcement officials, according to COPS:

• Change your profile picture on social media to the jpg found at www.facebook.com/national/cops

• Wear blue clothing;

• Advertise your support through billboards;

• Send cards of support to a local police department or state agency;

• Share a positive story about police on social media;

• Ask children to write letters in support of law enforcement;

• Organize events or rallies in support of law enforcement; or

• Thank a police officer when you see an officer on the street.

Haley related a recent incident of when two officers were on patrol in one of Bogalusa’s most drug-infested neighborhoods.

“An older lady flagged us down. She said she didn’t need anything but wanted to thank us for coming in and cleaning up the neighborhood. She said they were ‘prisoners in their own homes.’ That is an example of what we do that makes it all worthwhile,” Haley said.

This year’s day of appreciation comes at a time when police officers across the country are facing public scrutiny and outrage over the recent killings of unarmed individuals. Following one such incident in New York City, police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjan Liu were murdered while they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, 2014.