By Adam Christianson
For the last several years, we’ve all been subjected to a relentless, negative national media message, repeatedly making villains out of those hard-working, dedicated men and women, who protect and serve our communities nationwide.
Public trust in law enforcement has been shaken by the liberal media and our elected officials, not by those who would gladly lay down their life for a colleague and the people they serve, all while standing bravely between good and evil.
I recently attended the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The City of Baltimore is a vibrant community, diversely populated and proudly protected by law enforcement professionals who continue to serve despite the challenges created by those opportunistic criminals and anarchists who would have you believe that law enforcement is an oppressive, abusive, corrupt profession. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I watched as a deputy sheriff was honored for his heroic actions during a firefight with a criminal who shot and killed another deputy sheriff, his beat partner, who also responded to the call.
Both deputies suffered gunshot wounds yet the surviving deputy sheriff was still able to stop the threat, returning fire under fire.
How many people are willing to wear the uniform of a peace officer and face certain death all while being criticized by those who sit comfortably in a television studio or an office at the State Capitol or in the White House?
What I didn’t see at the ceremony was the national media, the President of the United States, the United States Attorney General or anyone else who has exploited isolated policing incidents to fuel the belief that law enforcement is nothing but an occupying force in the communities we protect.
On the contrary, community relationships, community partnerships, community policing and working together with those we serve are not new ideas. Sheriffs nationwide have been engaged in community oriented policing for years.
Many are actively engaged in early intervention, prevention, and educational programs.
Many of the men and women who serve in an honorable profession choose to do good for a living and many of them never come home at the end of their shift.
Over 130 of those brave men and women were killed in the line of duty in 2014. Where was the national outcry? Where were those members of the media and our elected officials who demand that we should be guardians and not warriors?
Our deputy sheriffs are warriors when they need to be because we live in a dangerous world and there are those who are more than willing to kill peace officers.
But more importantly, we are also guardians of our communities. We care, we’re compassionate, we’re empathetic, we’re dedicated and committed to our chosen profession and we understand very clearly how important our relationships are with our communities. We uphold and live by a code. The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.
Every profession has those who make mistakes. After all, we’re human beings and we make mistakes. Building trust in a community is a job that’s never done and our renewed commitment is to be transparent and accountable.
As Sheriffs, we are elected by the people and therefore accountable to the people. If we’re promoting a culture of ethical leadership and service to others throughout our respective agencies, we’ll be able to protect those critically important relationships for without community relationships; law enforcement will never be able to successfully protect our communities.
Our “warriors” are truly “guardians” and they deserve much more recognition for their bravery, rather than the criticism by those who don’t have the courage enough to do what peace officers do every day.
I am very proud of our team at the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office and they know that
I fully support them as both warriors and guardians.
Let’s not “fix” what’s not broken.
We don’t need the media and our elected officials to tell us how to do our jobs. Unless you have walked a mile in our shoes, you will never know what it’s like to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Instead, let’s continue to work together to promote a healthier, safer community while doubling our efforts to protect the public’s trust and confidence in us.
Adam Christianson is the Sheriff-Coroner for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the Immediate Past President, California State Sheriffs’ Association.