I write to you as a proud Delray Beach police officer and as the local Police Benevolent Association (PBA) president for Delray Beach police lieutenants, sergeants and officers. As the world knows, July 7 was the second deadliest day to police officers on United States soil since Sept. 11. Five police officers were killed by sniper fire and seven others were wounded in Dallas, Texas while protecting what was reported to be a peaceful protest. Since this tragedy, the Delray Beach community has shown an overwhelming amount of support not only for law enforcement in general, but for their Delray Beach police officers and support staff. Community members have sent heartfelt messages, cards, food items and small gifts just to say thank you for the sacrifices that officers make every day. Some of our residents have asked us how we put a uniform on after seeing innocent police officers and bystanders gunned down in cold blood. The truth is, just like many of my law enforcement brothers and sisters, we were up all night watching the news unfold with our families. When the sun rose the following morning, we put on our uniforms once again, but there was a higher sense of pride than usual. Although we knew at that moment that an unprecedented attack on law enforcement was unfolding before our eyes, we were not going to allow it to stop us from defending the oath that we all took. We know why we do what we do, we know the risk associated with our profession, and we know, even in a great city such as our own, that we are not immune to what is going on in society. Delray Beach police officers encounter guns in the hands of criminals almost daily, and we often face situations where we need to make split-second decisions on how to respond to a threat. We have been very lucky not to have been forced to use deadly force or to have deadly force used against us for many years.
On July 17, three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were gunned down by another coward. Once again, we were knocked down, but were immediately lifted back up by our community. I think the hardest thing for us as law enforcement officers is to convince ourselves and our own families that we will be OK each time we put on our uniforms, especially when we know that there is always that chance that we might not come home. In my nine-year career as a law enforcement officer, other than losing Sergeant Adam Rosenthal on Feb. 2, 2011 in a tragic car accident, I have never seen our officers so down in the dumps. You, as a civilian, won’t see this outside the four walls of the police department as these men and women are true professionals and often your heroes. We know if we don’t appear strong at the time we are called upon that a situation will deteriorate rapidly. Just know that no matter how bad it gets out there, it’s engrained in us to continue to protect and serve because it’s what we believe and what you deserve. For that reason, we ask that you continue to support our efforts and the sacrifices that we make each and every day. We don’t want you to spend your hard-earned money to buy us goodies (although we do appreciate them). All we really want is a smile when we walk in a room. We also ask that when the small minority of hateful people protest against us or, even worse, attack us that you all speak up and tell these people that they are wrong! Don’t allow the rhetoric of hateful people or politicians who have a self-serving agenda to alter your view on law enforcement. We are hurting bad, and the only thing that is going to makes us stronger is your continued support.
We ask that you continue to be the eyes and ears of your community. Please keep in mind that the recent attacks on law enforcement were done by cowards that didn’t even live in the communities in which they carried out their attacks. No one knows your community better than you. If you see something suspicious, say something. Call the police. Call 911. This is the only way we will prevent a tragedy from occurring here at home.
Thank you, and be safe.