02 March 2007

Policing: Giving credit where it's due

So seldom do we hear about positive stories surrounding the police – the everyday heroes who save lives, provide comfort to citizens and ensure our security. For some strange reason, the media and many people in society are hell bent on tainting their image by any means possible. A quick glance over a year’s news coverage will most likely yield more articles pertaining to negatives such as police corruption or abuse of power. While these problems many sometimes exist, they are not the core of what policing is all about. For the majority, police officers are everyday unsung heroes; they are brave men and women who risk their own lives to keep society out of harm’s way. These are people who command our respect, and yet so many are quick to criticize their actions.

I did not intend to write this blog as a rant, but rather as a wakeup call to society. The message is quite simple…

Policing exists for the benefit of society and security. Police officers are commissioned to uphold the law. Laws were created to protect the civil liberties of society, not to suppress us.
Police are not out to get you, they are out to help you.

If you have ever had a run-in with the law, chances are you were doing something illegal or questionable. It’s not about race, power or victimization; it’s about right and wrong. In general, if you abide the law you should have nothing to worry about. Police only become involved when something or someone is believed to pose a threat to society or to themselves. For the most part, police officers are just men and women doing their best to serve society. I find it very unfortunate that their good deeds, which far surpass any negative stories, go unnoticed.

Fortunately, I was able to witness a small measure of recognition last evening at the Ottawa Community Police Awards, where both officers and civilians were acknowledged for their valour and outstanding contributions to society. These are the positive stories that the public never gets to hear about; this is the tue essence of policing.

I watched with pride as my own brother received a certificate of merit for saving the life of a suicidal man. Several months ago, he responded to a call where a young man was standing on the ledge of a bridge, poised to jump. After a very lengthy conversation with the distraught man, he was able to convince him that his life was worth living. Somehow, he said the right words to pull this man out of his despair and encourage him to give life a second chance.

I would like to encourage society to support their local police forces and to think twice before they condemn officers. Police truly deserve more recognition for their hard work. For every negative story you hear in the news, you can rest assured that there are many more positives that go unmentioned.

Sadly, last night’s award ceremony didn’t even make the front page of the City section in the local paper - just a small 1/4 page blurb at the back.