Today set aside to honor law enforcement

Published 8:39 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day around the country.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation, which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world have converged on Washington, D.C., to participate in a number of planned events, which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

It comes at a time when law enforcement seems to be taking a hit from all sides after a number of officer-involved shootings that resulted in deaths of suspects who were stopped for questioning for one reason or another.

Bogalusa Police Chief Joe Culpepper and Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal shudder at the thought of mayhem in the streets should there ever be no protection from the dregs of society.

“The police put their lives on the line every time they come to work. A lot of people just don’t like the police for the speeding ticket or something like that,” Culpepper said. “To me, without the police, the world would be in chaos. By and large, police officers are here to serve the public. Law enforcement has had a lot of bad press lately about four or five officers. The public doesn’t hear about those who just do their jobs every day.”

Culpepper said the average citizen doesn’t often see what police officers are up against.

“It’s kind of a thankless job. We see the underbelly of society,” Culpepper said. “I’ve been at this almost 29 years, and I don’t think I could have done anything else more fulfilling as this. Everybody talks about those who are arrested, but they don’t think of the victims. In 99 percent of arrests, there are victims.”

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said she appreciates the work officers do. A small token of appreciation was buying pizza for each shift this week.

“It’s not much, but it’s what I could do. Next year I hope to have an event for them like a crawfish boil or barbecue,” Perrette said. “Theirs is a hard job and an underpaid job. I truly appreciate each one of these men and women who work in such a dangerous field.”

Perrette recalled the two officers who were slain in Hattiesburg, Miss. this past Saturday as an example. Officers Liquori Tate and Benjamin Deen were shot during a routine traffic stop.

“This past weekend, our Hattiesburg, Miss., neighbors experienced the loss of two officers, which made national news. It was such a tragic event and a reminder of how these men and women’s lives can quickly change in a simple traffic stop. If you see a police officer be sure to thank them for their dedication,” she said.

Perrette said officers do more than write tickets and make arrests.

“Police officers aren’t just enforcers of the law. We have many who go beyond the call of duty by doing acts of kindness that many people don’t hear about,” Perrette said. “Recently, two officers held an informative class that brought awareness to the public on the do’s and don’ts when in a traffic stop, taught self defense moves and domestic abuse awareness. Two other officers bought a family a few necessities.”

Seal agreed.

“I know my guys are putting their lives on the line every day for low pay,” Seal said. “The public doesn’t see officers changing a flat tire for a citizen or coming to the aid of a little, old lady who calls because she’s seen a prowler, but we’re there.”

Seal said law enforcement keeps the lid on troubled areas.

“If this country had civil unrest, it would be in a real spot,” Seal said. “The police are what keep it in order.”