On Sept. 9, your County Council sponsored and passed a resolution recognizing and supporting the St. Charles County Police and other police departments, sheriff departments and responders in the St. Louis area. The resolution “calls upon the governing bodies and prosecutors of the St. Louis Region to express their support for the police officers who are daily on their job ‘doing the right thing’ in supporting the safe and law-abiding citizens of their community.” Passing this resolution was important to the entire County Council because officers in our communities need to know they have our support.
This resolution does not state that we should blindly support the police. I’ll be the first to say that law enforcement personnel who abuse their power should face consequences and leave the profession. However, the constant negative rhetoric against police for decisions and rush to judgment in cases before all the facts are known affects law enforcement:
- In 2008, 106 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in the United States and Puerto Rico, up from 94 in 2017. More than half these deaths occurred during felonious incidents.
- Recent studies by the Manhattan Institute and others warn that crime will begin to rise as officers become less willing to initiate contact with the public due to fear of the consequences of performing their jobs.
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has stated that officers in his city were “fetal” and pulled back because they don’t want to become a news story or end their career early.
Additionally, we’ve seen with the immediacy that mobile phones provide through livestreaming and social media that officers are often judged in the court of public opinion without a full understanding of situations.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar spoke at the meeting Sept. 9 in favor of the resolution because he and his staff handle cases and see firsthand the dangerous situations police officers face every day. He added that people move to St. Charles County because it’s a safe place to raise a family and a prosperous business community with good schools – and police officers make this possible. I couldn’t agree with him more. He also added that St. Charles County is looked at as a model for how to treat the law enforcement community and how law enforcement should interact with the community. That’s really the key at the heart of this resolution: Law and order in any community must be a collaboration between citizens and police.
Officers need to be held accountable in their jobs more than most other professions, but they also need to be supported in a role most of us could not perform. I don’t think any of us wants to see our communities degrade because officers are hesitant to do their jobs. This resolution was a public showing of support for the officers – the people – who make our communities safe.
View the full resolution and watch the discussion at the Sept. 9 County Council meeting.