Police chief gives address on law enforcement at awards ceremony
● By Richard Gaw
Moments before he honored former New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Davis and five current officers at ceremonies Monday night at the New Garden Township Building, current New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson asked the overflow audience to watch a short video entitled, "What is a policeman?," shown in sequence with an essay written and narrated by the late commentator, Paul Harvey.
Following the video, Simpson delivered an essay of his own. What follows is the exact transcript of his address to the audience:
"...Law enforcement is a noble profession, and like Paul Harvey said, it requires a very special kind of person to do this job. What do these special people look like? They come from all walks of life, and they bring their life experiences to his job. They are your children, your parents, your siblings, your neighbors. Essentially, they look just like everyone else, except for several unique characteristics. They have an unquenchable desire to help people and serve society. They're incredibly responsible, especially at such a young age, and make life-and-death decisions in a split second. They're unflinchingly brave, and go into situations where known and unknown dangers exist.
"They're unselfish; they patrol the streets at times when most people are enjoying special moments at home. They are dedicated to public service, while making salaries that have often come under scrutiny. They are tolerant and level-headed under the worst of conditions. They do not shrink under pressure.
The men and women in our ranks are working at a time when the demands and risks have never been greater. According to the 2014 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report, there was a 24 percent increase in deaths [of officers] from 2013.
"Most troubling, there is a 56 percent increase in firearms-related deaths [of officers]. In 2014, ambushes were the leading circumstance of officer fatalities in firearm-related deaths.
"What profession, except for the military, works under such conditions? Ask yourself, 'Who would want to do this job?' Times for law enforcement officers are difficult, and they don't appear to be getting better any time soon. So what do we do? What do I do?
"To the men and women in law enforcement in the room, it's important to remember why we became police officers in the first place -- to help and to serve, even when times are difficult. A law enforcement leader should reinforce their mission statement, and reinforce our core values and wear them on our sleeve. Additionally, law enforcement leaders must provide their officers with training, guidance, equipment and support to make their jobs easier.
"As I have stated before, and my department know this, I am here for you. You are not here for me.
Finally, law enforcement leaders should commit their departments to a community policing philosophy. Community policing is not a program; it's a value system aimed at building trust, and improving communication and understanding. There may be some tough discussions ahead with the people we serve, but when we do these things, our mission and our relationships improve and we will be able to endure difficult times.
"Law enforcement is also a family business. Some family members follow us into the career. Others do what I describe as the really hard stuff, which makes them so special for so many reasons. Our families support us in countless ways. They tolerate us. They forgive us. They understand us, and most importantly, they bring peace and normalcy to our chaotic lives. They are our safety net. Allow me a moment to applaud our families, the support net, of all the law enforcement officers in the room. Thank you. [Applause.]
"The officers we honor tonight were called to their duty. These officers serve New Garden Township with honor. For all of law enforcement in the room, no matter your title...you matter."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.