Written by Jim Kaczmarek – Boise County Sheriff
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th as Peace Officer’s Memorial Day to mourn the fallen officers across the nation and remember their heroism and sacrifices by paying their respects and honoring their memories by through a memorial service. Now, nationwide, the same week of May 15th through May 20th is recognized as National Police Week.
In my time as the Boise County Sheriff, many have asked me how the recent spike in attacks, both physical and in attitude, towards law enforcement in general, has affected the deputies and other law enforcement officers that work in Boise County. Most are referring to the attacks on police in the media (social media in particular) as well as the increase in physical assaults on officers across the nation, to include a major upwards trend in the area of officer ambushes.
During this week, and any other, I thought it would be good to look at the actual numbers, I have pulled the following from the FBI studies over the past ten years:
-Average officer deaths per year: 151 (number of deaths in 2013: 116, number of deaths in 2016: 151, this is a 33.6% increase over a three year period)
-Average officer assaults per year: 49,672
-Population of the USA: 325,058,041
-Number of Law Enforcement Officers in the USA: 1,100,000
-Percentage of the population that are law enforcement: 3% (this leaves, on average, one law enforcement officer for every 2955.073 people in the USA)
-Idaho McDonalds General Manager annual wage: $46,556
-Boise County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy annual wage: $37,000
With some of these facts in mind, coupled with all of the vitriolic behavior that seems to permeate the media, a generational trend towards a lack of respect for law enforcement or accountability of any kind, we have an environment that does not foster a lot of enthusiasm for applicants or interest in the law enforcement field.
That being said, the dedicated professionals that are in law enforcement in Idaho, and in particular, Boise County and the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, don’t let any of that bother them on a professional level. The police have always been hated by criminals. Police have never been that popular with the general public (there is an analogy that describes wolves / criminals, sheep / general public, and sheep dogs / police, it states; “The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours” Lt. Col Dave Grossman). It is not always easy in a professional law enforcement officer’s personal life. to be hated and reviled while being held to a different standard than anyone else, but the Code of Ethics for law enforcement does not allow any of that to factor in to their activities as law enforcement.
More importantly, policing has always been a dangerous business. Competent and committed law enforcement professionals strap their duty gear each day and leave their families knowing that there is a good chance that they may not come home. If they are excellent law enforcement professionals, they expect not to come home, and therefore train appropriately so that they can come home.
Each law enforcement officer in Idaho takes an oath and conforms to a Code of Ethics. These are upheld faithfully and taken to heart. Each of us has made a commitment that is a commitment made and residing in our heart, and it pertains to what is most important in life, despite the consequences.
“Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?”
— William J. Bennett
The Boise County Sheriff’s Office challenge coin has “Honor”, “Community”, and “Service” on one side, with our badge and state seal on it. On the other side, a thin blue line American flag and the words “Remember the fallen, respect the righteous” on it.
Please join me in remembering those that have given their lives in defense of the freedoms that each of us enjoy, and honoring the few that choose to serve our communities and protect us here at home.
To the citizens that do not necessarily want us here, I will say that we will be there anyway, we will come to help you and defend you despite your reservations and in some cases, hatred.
To the citizens that appreciate us, that are grateful and supportive, thank you.
To the criminals that are threatening our society and giving us job security, we hope that we will work ourselves right out of a job!