Honor Those Who Serve and Protect

Even as law enforcement officers and those who support them were observing Peace Officers Memorial Day on Monday, Ohio Valley residents were reminded of the many risks those who protect and serve us encounter.

Last weekend, an East Liverpool officer, making a traffic stop that turned into a drug arrest, took all the precautions in processing a car in which two suspects had been riding. He had on the necessary gloves and mask, knowing not to come in direct contact with any substances he found in the vehicle he had stopped.

Later, however, he was at the police station when a colleague pointed out something on his shirt. Without thinking, he brushed it off with his bare hand.

Had he been alone at the time, he would likely be dead, according to his chief. The officer almost immediately overdosed, was administered Narcan (and then three more doses in the hospital) and later experienced headaches and chest pains. Thankfully, he has recovered enough to return to work.

It seems the powder he brushed off his shirt was an illegal drug so potent it can be absorbed through the skin, causing severe problems.

The East Liverpool officer’s experience was a reminder of the evolving nature of threats facing law enforcement officers. Imagine having to go to work every day with that level of risk. Most of us cannot.

We are grateful for those who not only imagine it, but accept it and are willing to face it to keep us safe.

On Peace Officers Memorial Day, law enforcement officers across the country gathered to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty; and recognize the service of all who wear the uniform. Reports indicate 135 U.S. law enforcement officers were killed on the job last year. Twenty-one of them perished in ambush-style attacks.

As a followup to the memorial observance, this is National Police Week. It is a time during which all of us should reflect on the sacrifices, big and small, made by those who serve as the thin — but strong — line between us and those who see civilized society as no more than potential victims.

To those who serve and protect: Thank you.