Senator David Sater – Standing with Law Enforcement

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JEFFERSON CITY — Too often people think of Ferguson and New York City when looking at our law enforcement, instead of thinking of the people who risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe. Recent events have touched off renewed tension and division between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The reactionary politics of these events has led to tragic and unacceptable acts of violence against law enforcement and is making our communities less safe.

This past August, a Texas deputy sheriff and husband and father, Darren Goforth, was shot execution-style, while refueling his patrol car. The only motive appears to be the badge he was wearing. Before that, two New York police officers — Erik Jansen and Brian Moore — were murdered for doing their job. Last December, a man killed two on-duty New York City police officers in Brooklyn, as revenge for the death of Eric Garner and the shooting of Michael Brown. To date, 32 police officers across the country have been gunned downed in the line of duty in 2015.

We have Hollywood personalities calling police officers murderers. In Madison, Wisconsin, an angry mob surrounded and assaulted a police officer with cries of “cops need to be killed.” A crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota, celebrating the shooting of Darren Goforth in Houston, chanted “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” The rhetoric has gotten out of control and is leading to the innocent murder of police officers. That must stop.

Our police officers are taught that their job requires them to be visible and ready for whatever situation comes along. That requires a certain level of trust and cooperation between them and the public they serve. The fact is this loaded rhetoric and demonization of law enforcement is dividing police officers and the communities they serve, when we should be striving for a renewed sense of community and shared purpose. That purpose can be found in expressing our respect and support for law enforcement while holding them accountable and demanding they do their job to the highest possible ethical and moral standard. I don’t know one officer or deputy that would disagree with that and almost every one of them does it every day on the job.

Most of us know the law enforcement in our towns and counties. We see them helping a stranded motorist fix a flat tire on the side of the road or working an accident at 3:00 a.m. when everyone else is sleeping. They are often the first on the scene in an emergency situation and the last line of defense against the most dangerous and violent elements in society. Beyond this, we know them as our fellow citizens; someone who cheers on their kids at the football game or someone we run into at the grocery store. We know they work hard, put themselves in harm’s way every day they put on the uniform, and they care. Speech should be free and we can debate policy differences and the role of law enforcement, but respect for those who wear a police uniform must be a basic value in our community.

The circumstances we currently face are an opportunity for us to relearn the lessons of community and cooperation, to be a part of something larger than ourselves and the joy of making a real contribution that leaves behind a better world than we found. That’s why these issues take on such a special importance right now.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 419, Jefferson City, MO 65101.