Putting their lives on the line every day

By The Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal-Courier

Another police officer is gunned down, the eighth victim of cold brutality in the past month.

We should feel numb. We should feel angry.

Many do, and thousands lined the streets of Fox Lake, Illinois, on Monday to pay their respects as Lt. Charles J. Gliniewicz is laid to rest.

But almost as tragic as his death a week ago Tuesday is the reaction from some who want to use it and others as backdrops to further personal agendas.

It is not an invitation to spotlight the cases of the small minority of officers whose dedication and professionalism is questionable. It is not the time to see who can yell the loudest about whose lives matter as though tragedy is a game of one-upmanship.

This is not a time for debate over gun laws by the screaming mouthpieces of cable news programs. It is not a hash-tag, or a movement.

Those are all important things to address, but it should not become politically incorrect to focus on one singular aspect of the problem of violence.

Another police officer is dead, senselessly killed for doing his job.

Let’s focus on that and not dilute the honor that Gliniewicz and others who put their lives on the line every day should be afforded.

Gliniewicz, just days from retiring from the job he had performed for almost 30 years, was found shot to death minutes after calling for backup while following three suspicious men in the town near Chicago.

In a swampy area surrounded by trees and marshland, the 52-year-old officer answered his final call.

He was, by all accounts, more than just a cop. Known as “G.I. Joe” because of his tattoos and shaved head, he was a role model in the community and never missed an opportunity to mentor youths.

While deaths of law enforcement officers are down this year from the past, according to the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, many of the most recent deaths are specifically targeting those who are law enforcement authorities.

Texas Deputy Darren Goforth was shot to death Aug. 28 as he put gas in his squad car. Louisiana State Trooper Steven Vincent was shot in the head Aug. 14 while helping a motorist. A housing authority officer in New Orleans was shot to death while sitting in his patrol car in May. Two New York City police officers were assassinated in December while sitting in their patrol car.

Many more have died performing their duties. Since records started being kept in 1791, 20,500 law enforcement officials have died in accidents or attacks.

In this day and age, it seems to be open season on those who wear a badge. A handful of isolated actions by bad officers are being allowed to overshadow the almost-daily stories about the good officers. This by no means is to say we should dismiss the pursuit of justice in those situations. Some cannot be defended and should not be. But we cannot view the vast majority of police through the micro-lens of corruption.

To do otherwise is a dishonor to the thousands of men and women who, like Lt. Gliniewicz, are willing to put their lives on the line every day to protect others from harm.

By The Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal-Courier