Law enforcement is a dangerous challenge

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

This has been a busy and uneventful week for local law officers, especially the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, and it’s only Wednesday. The department has had to deal with the hanging of an inmate at the jail as well as the shooting of a suspect late Monday following a pursuit and standoff.

Sunday afternoon the Elizabethton Police Dept. investigated a motorcycle wreck on N. Lynn Avenue in which an Elizabethton fireman was killed. All were tragic and no doubt left lasting images for the law enforcement officers, who were on the scene.
Police in general get a bad rap, and the vast majority are good, loyal people. They are our neighbors, citizens in our community, and they put their lives on the line every day. They maintain the peace and order in our community. What’s more they do it with very small compensation. A meager salary is all that is provided for these brave men and women who risk their own safety for the welfare of others.
Many of our law enforcement officers are college educated and possibly could get jobs elsewhere for higher pay, but choose to stay close to home and in law enforcement because it is their passion and calling.
And oh, by the way, there’s the heightened chance of getting killed or injured at work. Every day. It’s one of the most stressful, dangerous and under-appreciated professions a person can enter.
We often read or hear about police officers who wrongfully shoot a person or beat someone. Just because there are a few rotten apples, it should not spoil the whole basket. Alongside that one bad cop are a dozen of others who are working the streets and keeping us safe.
Law officers protect our backs each day. Although Elizabethton and Carter County are small communities and do not have the violent crime that big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago experience on a daily basis, we are not Mayberry, either. We do have our share of crime and criminals. And, our problems are never as simple as Barney’s or Andy’s. They often cannot be solved in 30 minutes of time.
The truth is, these are even scarier times for police officers and their families. Drug use is up. More people have guns. Anger and quick tempers seem to be rising trends in society. Also, the value of human life seems to be shrinking.
Stories which appear daily in newspapers and on television of police officers committing seemingly needless acts of violence against civilians only promote an “us against them” attitude.
As for our local law enforcement officers, we believe they are doing the best job they can with the resources they have available to them. They are to be commended for their hard work and we as citizens should be more open-minded and be more appreciative of the good job they are doing.
Our City Council and County Commission need to think about giving certified peace officers competitive paychecks and benefits that are much closer to what they deserve. We realize that their paychecks are dependent on tax income, which must be split among many different departments. Taxpayers must know they get a bargain when it comes to local law enforcement.
There are a number of good officers serving the Carter County-Elizabethton area. Keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
When you seem them out and about, treat them with kindness and respect. Let them know you appreciate what they do.

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