Reflections and Gratitude from the Chief of Police
There are not sufficient enough words to express the profound sadness I feel for my profession and all those who serve in it. With the rest of the country, I watched the events unfold in Dallas on Thursday evening. In my 28 years as a police officer, there have been many officers killed in the line of duty. But as news of this incident trickled in, I realized this was different. Not only because the number of dead and injured kept rising, but because of the reason. Most often, police officers are killed in the line of duty when they are called to stop a problem. It was apparent to me that this time, law enforcement was being viewed as a problem that must be stopped.
Heartbroken and discouraged, I decided to drive down to the station the next day to check on my employees. What I was feeling must have surely been magnified by ten for them as they put on their uniforms, kissed their loved ones good-bye, and went out to protect the community of Bountiful, just like they do every day. But on this day, I could see the fear they saw in their own eyes as they looked in the mirror to make sure their badges were straight. I could feel the embrace of their loved ones, a little tighter and a little longer, before they got in their patrol cars and drove off. As they glanced at their houses in their rear view mirrors, I could hear their thoughts say “Please, Lord, let me make it home again.” As they drove in silence to the station, I could sense the disillusionment they felt for their chosen profession because the society for whom they seek fairness and justice, had turned on them.
When I got to the station, I expected to find employees who were downtrodden. What I found was a mitigation of those emotions brought on by the appreciation shown by a number of citizens who had taken the time to bring treats, food, and gifts that day. Then I remembered all of the acts of kindness our community has bestowed on members of our department not just that day but ever since it became commonplace to pre-judge police-involved shootings and immediately assume that law enforcement is the problem. The many times an anonymous citizen has picked up the lunch tab for an officer; all the food, gifts, and meaningful cards brought to the station; the hundreds of phone calls, emails, conversations, and simple “thank you” from citizens as they pass by. They have meant the world to us.
As a member of law enforcement, I know in my heart that the overwhelming majority of police officers throughout the country are not racist, or bigoted, or violent. And because of the kindness and thoughtfulness of our citizens, I know that overwhelming majority of our community supports our police officers and police department. It is because of these efforts that we are reminded the negative rhetoric we hear on the television comes from the mouths of very few people; people who unfortunately have been given a stage to make damaging statements that go unchecked and unsubstantiated. The best thing we can do to combat this is to continue to do what we have done for the past ten years: to build trust and respect in both directions by making community relations a priority.
On behalf of the employees of Bountiful Police Department, a heartfelt “Thank You” to our community for the support and respect you show us. I am so proud of these men and women who strive each day to serve with honor and integrity. They continue to care about you and provide support in your most difficult moments, even when they are hurting. In face of the fear and mistrust that threatens to bring down the profession that America relies on to maintain peace and order every minute of every day, we remain committed to serving our community with excellence.
With Deepest Appreciation,
Chief Tom Ross