Today marks the end of National Police Week. Created in 1962, by President Kennedy, May 15 is specifically set aside each year as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Established by a joint resolution of Congress, National Police Week recognizes the courage and sacrifice made by law enforcement officers and honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, while protecting and serving others.
Earlier this month was National Nurses Week. This past week, National Police Week. I have a child in both professions. My daughter is a nurse. My son, Nate, serves and protects his community as a police officer and I have a nephew, Eric, who serves as well. These fine young men take their jobs seriously as protectors of the pubic and keepers of peace. My son has wanted to be a police officer since he was a small boy, practicing, learning, studying for years before he ever donned a uniform and fastened on a badge.
I have ridden along with my son while he was on duty, and I am so proud of his dedication in serving his community, protecting others and backing up the other officers on duty. I’ve watched as he showed compassion, kindness and concern toward those he has stopped, and offered help to the needy and destitute. He operates out of his heart, rather than his head, but he doesn’t hesitate to step into the role of firm authoritarian if that is what is needed, for the safety and well being of all concerned. Nate is often the first on the scene of a crisis, and I can’t imagine a man better able to handle those difficult situations with efficiency, knowledge and care than he does.
On behalf of my son and nephew and the many police officers that I know, I found these helpful tips on keeping officers and the public safe. We can assist these keepers of the peace, who have families at home, depending on them, or hinder them in doing their jobs, which are challenging enough at the best of times.
1. Focus on driving. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone, hunt for items in your purse or allow yourself to become distracted.
2. Give officers room on the roadway. Pull to the right or stop for emergency vehicles.
3. Move over for stopped police cars. When you see a stopped police car, slow down, and move one lane away from the stop, if possible.
4. Watch officers’ hands as they are directing traffic, obeying their signals.
5. Only drive when sober. Drinking and driving causes fatalities, to other drivers and to police officers.
6. Drive within the speed limit. Speeding puts others at risk.
7. Keep volume on radio and phones at a reasonable level, so that you can hear approaching emergency vehicles.
8. Don’t wear headphones while you drive. See above.
9. Report drunk drivers or drivers behaving erratically. You might prevent a tragedy.
10. If you are pulled over by a police officer, stay in the car, roll your window down, keep your hands where they can be seen, such as on the steering wheel. Place your vehicle in park, turn radio off and if it is at night, turn on the interior car light. Be prepared to show your driver’s license and proof of insurance. Be respectful.
I am honored to have a son who serves and protects, and a nephew as well. I am glad there is a week set aside to honor the courage and commitment of police officers across the nation, and to remember those who have fallen while protecting their communities. These men and women make a difference in our cities and towns, and in our lives. We can make a difference in theirs. The next time you encounter an officer, because of a car stop or accident, or you see them eating lunch or stopping to help someone in need, smile and thank him or her for their dedication and their willingness to serve. It might be my son smiling back at you.