Thank members of law enforcement for all they do

Published 8:55 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

All federal prosecutors remember their first opportunity to tell the court they are appearing “on behalf of the United States.” It’s a statement that carries significant weight. For me as United States Attorney, that opportunity has been especially meaningful when I tell the loved ones of fallen peace officers that, on behalf of the United States, I and America grieve with them.

Police put their lives on the line on a daily basis, not for anything small, but for something really big — the shared enterprise of trying to make our communities better places to live. Their profession exemplifies citizenship. Westerville officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, and all of the other police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice this year, did so for nothing less.

Observance of National Police Week this week makes us pause to realize we all share a peace officer’s mission to keep our streets safe. We all speak and act on behalf of the United States. The police can’t do it all alone.

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Officers patrolling our communities today face more demanding challenges than they did when President John Kennedy declared May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day in the 1960s. The fundamental feature of policing — that officers put their lives on the line every day in performance of their duty to protect and serve all of us — remains the same. But the challenges that police face are significantly different, and meeting those challenges will require all of us working together. Now more than ever, the police and the public they serve must be engaged together.

Today, not only must officers attend to all the crime problems that they faced during Kennedy’s presidency, they are also called on to be first responders for addiction and mental-health issues. Law enforcement officers here have become adept at administering Naloxone, holding down the tragic toll of our opioid epidemic. Being a police officer today means everything, from knowing how criminals in their own homes use the internet to commit crimes to patrolling streets in which deadly weapons are far more readily accessible than in the past. On top of all of this, several narratives are bubbling through the culture that corrosively pit the police and the  public they serve against each other.

Accomplishing all that we ask of the police today requires us to unite in making our communities safer and fairer places.

Police across the Southern District of Ohio recognize this, and they are reaching out.

Many of our police departments have developed innovative community-policing models. Increasingly, agencies are implementing or participating in citizen review boards, thus inviting civilian scrutiny of their conduct. They are also using technology to connect and to increase transparency — from officers wearing body cameras to departments communicating through social media.

We the public need to reach back out to the police, too, and do what we can as citizens to reduce crime, improve public health, and make our communities fairer.

Last fall, for example, a group of students in one Cincinnati school took part in a national day of concern for gun violence. They pledged never to bring a gun to school, never to use a gun to settle a dispute, and to encourage their friends to do the same. I want students throughout our district to learn about that pledge and to take it.

Other examples abound. Health care and treatment providers can look for even more opportunities to share information and ideas with law enforcement about addressing overdoses effectively. From the very old to the very young, we can educate each other about perils lurking on the internet. And we can build relationships with police officers outside the contexts of emergencies and crimes.

During National Police Week, and every week, it’s appropriate to thank our police officers, to recognize them, and to honor them. Even more than that, though, let’s engage with the police and join them. Their mission is also ours.


Benjamin Glassman is the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. His office can be reached at 614-469-5715.