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KATIE ZERR: ‘Cars for Cops’ will help this village

Just what does it mean “To protect and serve?”
In a small town law enforcement is sometimes seen as officers patrolling the streets, watching for suspicious activity or chasing kids who may or may not be looking for mischief.
It may have been true in the past, but in today’s world where illegal drugs are in high demand and criminals are one click of a mouse of being inside our homes, law enforcement plays a different role in our communities.
No more are their days spent refereeing disagreements between neighbors and taking the keys away from people who shouldn’t be driving. Our officers spend the majority of their time dealing with situations that are not pleasant.
In this area, there are situations that occur that require officers to have the patience of a saint and the courage to enter into situations with the possibility of life-threatening consequences.
More and more we are seeing physical attacks on our law enforcement officers when they have been called to deal with ongoing situations.
They endure not only the physical attacks, verbal threats and threats to their families by those who are lawbreakers, but also disrespect from those they are trying to protect.
In a time when law enforcement is getting a black eye because of the acts of a few, it is important to point out the positive impact law enforcement has on our communities.
Officers are asked to be everything from good neighbors to life savers, to protectors of the children. Our officers intervene in family situations where there may be weapons involved. They are first on the scene of fires, accidents and answer the calls when concerned relatives can’t get in contact with a loved one.
They never know what is in store for them behind closed doors.
They intervene when children are abused or endangered. They are seen as bad guys by some members of our communities when they take steps to remove children from their parents.
It is not something that is taken lightly, but their prime purpose is protecting the children from harm. It is heartbreaking to see a child afraid of officers because in their lives they have seen mommy or daddy taken into custody. When they hear officers are the bad guys, that is something that sticks with them for a long time.
So many times we see only small portion of the big picture in these situations. When parents chose drugs and alcohol over the care of the children, someone has to step in and get the right people involved who will protect these children from harm.
When we read or hear information involving officers breaking the law, it is easy to generalize and see all law enforcement in that light.
It is not fair and it is not true.
In our community we see both sides of our officers. We know their names, we see them at sporting events, talking with kids. We see them on the street, helping an elderly resident who is having vehicle trouble or coordinating an effort to help neighbors deal with small issues. We have seen them helping to push a car out of the snow or lend a helping hand when someone runs out of gas.
Our officers not only protect members of our community, but they also serve. One only has to watch an officer deal with what is a big issue for those involved, with kindness and patience, to see the value to this community.
They take care of the elderly members of our community. They get to know people in need and step in when the need can overwhelm an individual or family.
We see their children growing up and being involved in school activities. We also have seen some of our own children grow up to become officers. They are an integral part of this community.
This week the Mobridge Police Department, working in conjunction with local businesses, has launched a program that will help our residents, clean up our community and fund a source that allows officers to go above and beyond the call to help others.
“Cars for Cops” (see the story on page 2) is a many-faceted program that benefits many, in the now and in the future.
The funds raised through this program will allow officers to help families or individuals in need. The Police Positive Fund has already had an impact on our community and through ‘Cars for Cops” it can expand.
It is important to see this and other positive actions of our law officers, whether it be in their efforts to protect us, our children or the elderly in our community.
We as a community need to follow their lead and become better neighbors and better members of our community.
We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to protect the most vulnerable.
Thanks to the law enforcement of our community; the Mobridge Police Department, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office and surrounding county sheriffs, the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the BIA for helping to care for our village.
– Katie Zerr –