By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

To protect and serve
By Dave Emanuel

The recent spate of attacks on police officers around the nation should give everyone reason for concern. And what’s even more troubling is the lack of compassion shown by some government officials and private citizens alike.

As a member of Snellville’s City Council, I have been fortunate to develop personal relationships with a number of the officers who serve our city. Without exception I have found them to be unique individuals who have entered the field of law enforcement for all the right reasons. Some are relatively new to the field, others have served for over 30 years. They have families, friends, relatives they like, and relatives they’d prefer were related to someone else. They have personal hobbies, interests, aspirations and recreational activities and many often volunteer to help others. When they’re not on duty, they are no different than members of any other profession.

I don’t believe Snellville is unique in that regard, Cities throughout the county and beyond have similar police forces, as does the county and state. Each officer is unique, as is each department, but the one commonality is, to borrow a well-know motto, a desire “to protect and to serve”.

It may not seem like that if you’ve been pulled over for a traffic violation, but for 99% of police officers, traffic stops are just a part of the job. But they are far more than what they seem to the unfortunate driver who receives a “fast driving award”, or a ticket for running a stop sign or traffic light. They are opportunities to keep the community safe. In the majority of cases, a traffic stop results in nothing more than the offending driver being sent on his or her way with a citation or a warning, (I know whereof I speak) which invariably brings new awareness of the need to obey traffic laws. However, in a surprising number of instances, what appears to be a routine traffic stop leads to the apprehension of a criminal with outstanding warrants or evidence that he or she has been involved in criminal activity. 

The same criminals who are arrested as a result of a traffic stop could well be on their way to commit a robbery, burglary or other crime. And you or someone in your neighborhood might have been the victim. So why is it that some people don’t give it a second thought when a police officer is killed or wounded in the line of duty? Why is it that some people think that an officer-involved shooting is justification for making death threats against police officers? The answers to those questions are myriad and complex and usually uttered by people who are misguided or misinformed. 

Of late, it has become popular in some segments of society to portray every officer-involved shooting as an assault on an innocent civilian. Yet valid investigation, as opposed to “Monday morning quarter-backing” usually proves the officer was justified in his or her actions. 

Without question, dishonest and corrupt police officers exist. And without question, some officers over-reach and over-react. Yet they do so in such small numbers as to be a few grains of dirty sand on an otherwise pristine beach. An overwhelming number of police officers are heroes who put their life on the line every day to stop crime and arrest criminals.

One of the best ways to gain a better understanding of police work, and an appreciation for police officers, is to enroll in a citizens’ police academy, such as the ones put on by the Snellville Police Department and the Gwinnett County Police Department. You’ll find that gaining an insight into perspective of police officers, and having an opportunity to talk one-on-one with them (at some place other than the side of the road) are truly an eye-opening experiences.

Dave Emanuel is Vice President of Random Technologies, a manufacturing company in Loganville, and a Snellville City Councilman. To read more from Dave Emanuel visit http://www.cuttothe-chase.net