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Thanking and respecting our men and women in blue

By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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Last week, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones stood at the podium at Bayside Adventure Church, just feet from the American Flag draped casket of his fallen officer, Robert French, of El Dorado Hills. French was killed a week earlier in the line of duty when Daniel Littlecloud opened fire outside a Sacramento hotel, fleeing from a bust of a local auto theft ring.

As Jones spoke about his fallen officer and friend, his voice cracked and the emotion was clearly visible. While he spoke on the many accolades that decorated French, he uttered some words very clearly, he told the thousands of people in attendance and watching on live television that he was angry. Frankly, he has good reason to be.

The ongoing issue of our law enforcement officers being attacked is getting out of hand. Sadly, during the memorial ceremony for French alone, two more officers were shot and injured in South Sacramento.

Many blame the judicial system that releases criminals back into the population following rehab. Littlecloud was one of those released from incarceration not too long ago.

Now, following the deadly scene two weeks ago, there is much concern regarding that release that even the judge who released him had concerns at the time, but the system gave the move the green light. Reason again that Jones should be angry. In a single week alone, one of his officers was killed, two more were injured on the very day they laid that officer to rest and two additional California Highway Patrol officers are also recovering from their injuries. This all in a week’s time – it’s out of hand.

So what can we do as a community to help? Sure, we can all boast our opinions on a need for or against gun control. We can all express our feelings about the judicial system and press for change in future elections. However, one of the biggest things we can do right now as a community is show our respect to the men and women that protect us and our city, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The evening after Robert French was killed in the line of duty, I walked to the local convenience store near my home. Outside were two Sacramento County Sheriff officers taking their break. It was during one of our triple-digit days and they were enjoying an ice cream along with their K-9 companion. This is a frequent break spot as I live close to Folsom Dam and Sacramento County patrols the facility 24/7.

As I walked up to the curb I could see it their eyes, they were hurting. They had lost one of their own on this day.  As I looked at them I couldn’t help but speak, they looked a bit cautioned at first, understandably so as they had no idea who I was walking up in the darkness. And then, I uttered the simple words, “Thank you for what you do.”

Those simple words, “thank you,” transformed the expressions of sadness and uncertainty into smiles. They both immediately thanked me in return and shook my hand. From there they went on to finish their break and I went into the store.

So, the point I am making today is simple. Yes, something has to change in this world to make everyone once again respect law enforcement. We have to get back to a place where criminals and would-be criminals have some level of fear as to the consequences they face when they attack our officers. These are important topics that our elected officials and our government must address with all of our support, and it’s not going to change easily.

However, the one thing we can do each and every day, is make an effort to thank a police officer in our community. Thank the men and women that put their life in danger every day so we are safe. Two simple words, uttered from your lips, posted on your social media, however you wish to do it, can show our appreciation. In addition to this, talk to your children; teach them the importance of this. After all, when I was a kid I would say somewhere in the neighborhood three out of five kids in my community desired to one day be a police officer. Today, I fear that desire is decreasing due to the increased dangers and growing disrespect by so many towards those willing to do the job. Let’s change that.

Bill Sullivan is the General Manager for Gold Country Media in Sacramento, El Dorado and Amador Counties, including the Folsom Telegraph. He can be reached at bills@goldcountrymedia.com.