Peace Officer Appreciation E-mail
Written by Tom Wetzel   
During the month of May, police officers will step off Peace Officers Memorial Day Parades throughout the country in honor of our fellow brothers and sisters in blue who lost their lives in the line of duty. It is an important event recognizing the grave sacrifices these officers made while “protecting and serving" our nation.

Everyday throughout America, our nation’s peace officers will find themselves in situations that are anything but peaceful. And sadly, some will lose their lives. These annual parades and memorial services are fine tributes to those sacrifices.

But I suspect that for many Americans, they may have a myopic view of what police officers actually do on a regular basis and not recognize how complex and far reaching their actions really are. Beyond catching bad guys and writing those darn traffic tickets, many may overlook just how involved the “serve” portion in the “protect and serve” motto really is.

Besides investigating crimes or responding to emergency calls, police officers provide a tremendous level of service to our citizenry and so often will go “above and beyond” the call of duty.

It is not unusual to see officers pulled up behind disabled vehicles along our roadsides. Providing them some flares and checking on their status would be enough, but plenty will help make arrangements for tow trucks and stand by particularly during night hours to make sure they get safely on their way.

Homeless men and women may occasionally find that not only could they be offered a ride to a shelter or bus stop but even find themselves a few dollars heavier through the generosity of a kind hearted police officer.

On those cold nights when we accidentally lock the doors of our cars while the keys are still inside, it may be an officer with a lockout tool who gets us back behind the wheel.

Officers not only reunite lost children or some of our elderly with their families but they routinely help bring smiles to the faces of many upon finding lost dogs and other family pets. Their contacts with animals are not just limited to family reunions but can also involve evictions as it is your friendly local officer who gets called to get the squirrels or birds out of our homes.

Children hold a special place in the hearts of police officers and when it comes to their safety and welfare, officers will take active roles in serving our little ones. We see them in schools warning kids about drugs while teaching DARE programs or setting up make believe roads and intersections while directing Safety Towns on playgrounds. They will warn kids about the dangers of gangs while also offering outlets for young boys and girls through police athletic leagues. They will talk about Internet safety, avoiding guns and the dangers of alcohol abuse all with the goal of keeping them safe.

The list could go on and on but what should be clear is how interwoven the service related activities of police personnel are within the fabric of our culture. They are so common that most people do not even notice.

Tom Wetzel is a northeast Ohio suburban police lieutenant, SWAT officer, trainer, and certified law enforcement executive.

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