Why we must protect those who protect us

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013

By CLAY HAMMAC / Guest Columnist

Many of us have heard someone say, “There’s never a cop around when you need one!”

We are all quite fortunate — I would say we are blessed — to live in a country that is free of tyranny and oppression. We do not live in fear of being imprisoned for speaking our minds or living by our convictions. However, as liberating as the American mindset is, we do not live in a utopian society. Many Americans still lock their doors at night, many Americans arm themselves for personal protection, and we all recognize that it is not wise to walk down a dark alley at night in an area that is known for crime.

All across this nation our police departments and sheriff’s offices are facing a financial crisis that is quickly becoming viewed as crippling.

Detroit, for example, was once a thriving city of industry. Successful businessmen and women called Detroit home and raised their families in this all-American city. Over a very short period of time, crime crept in, families moved out of the city, houses became vacant, tax revenue dwindled, and the law enforcement community found itself in a reactionary state rather than a proactive state of operations. From news reports, we now understand that it is not uncommon for a citizen to call 911 to report an emergency and be told, “I’m sorry, we do not have an officer available to respond.”

I would suspect that if the community leaders of that great American city could turn back the hands of time they would realize the importance of investing in public safety. The topic of alleged political corruption aside, it is without question that it was the decaying sense of safety that led to families relocating away from the city.

There is so much that is dependent on keeping our communities safe. The slightest increase in crime trends can have devastating effects on a city or county. I feel certain that the current residents of Detroit would agree and when faced with an emergency ask themselves, “Where is a cop when you need one?”

Here in Shelby County, we must continue to invest in our public safety. Our citizens should never report an emergency, only to be turned away.

Clay Hammac is the president of the Shelby County Fraternal Order of Police.