Thank you to those who protect us

This has been a busy week in the newsroom, and by extension, a busy week for local law enforcement and first responders.

In my time as a reporter, I’ve participated in my fair share of siren-chasing. While my usual areas of interest — education and religion — don’t typically require emergency intervention, when the scanner sings and I am (un)lucky enough to be the only reporter available, I grab a notebook and go.

There is a human side to every situation, and that part of the call always plants a sick feeling in my stomach. But there is another consideration for journalists — the chance to cover an event that will undoubtedly be talk of the town when word gets out. Any reporter can tell you it’s a feeling you can’t understand unless you’ve been in that position; one of uneasiness for your neighbor and enthusiasm for your job.

This is easier to manage when there is a fire or vehicle accident. In those situations, we’re simply playing the role of spectator. As troubling as it is that there’s an inherent human fascination with destruction and mayhem, most of us would be lying if we claimed to look away when we pass an incident along the road.

There is another side, though. Monday’s bank robbery, for instance. Most people hear “armed robbery” and “in progress” and avoid the scene.

Not everyone.

Law enforcement gets that call and rushes to get there.

Let’s back up for just a moment. I have a confession to make. Despite my clean driving record, there was one incident — one time in college — when I was pulled over for “following too closely.” This isn’t the time or place to rehash the details of that situation, but suffice it to say I felt slighted by the accusation. Even right at this moment, I’m struggling to move on without defending my reputation as a good kid.

I digress.

The important part of the story is that I was not pleased with the officer who felt it necessary to write me a ticket. Not a big fan of his work.

Many of us probably share a similar experience. (At least nod and smile so I feel better about myself.)

My point is, law enforcement is always being criticized. Whether officers did the right thing, the wrong thing, handled an incident incorrectly, didn’t handle an incident at all — whatever the case may be, police are blamed locally and nationally for all sorts of perceived wrongdoings.

And then a scary thing happens and who is there?

You guessed it. Mr. You’re-Following-Too-Closely.

To him and the group of people he represents, I want to say just one thing: thank you.

It takes a special kind of person to fight human instinct to flee and instead rush toward a dangerous situation. It takes courage to read about a traffic stop shooting one day and get up and put on your uniform again in the morning. It takes guts to carry the public’s “bad guy” perception and still commit yourself to keeping the public safe.

I don’t know how or why these individuals do what they do. It has to be exhausting, if nothing else, to pull over a millionth driver for the millionth time and explain to a millionth person why driving too fast is not OK. It’s got to be frustrating to respond to another crash, another fire, another robbery, knowing that much of the time, if we all acted responsibly, these situations could be avoided.

This has been a busy week for the newsroom, but it has been a busier week for our men and women in blue. If you see one of them, even with red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror, consider thanking him or her.

I still don’t believe my driving warranted a ticket on that day years ago, but if I ever find myself in a crummy situation, I know who will be there to back me up.

Thank you.

¯¯¯

Julianne Cahill is the education/religion editor at The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at jcahill@lewistownsentinel.com or by phone at 248-6741 ext. 117.

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