Serving as a police officer today means facing adversity and overcoming increasing challenges. We ask more of our officers on the street today than at any time in history.
Policing is about much more than simply investigating crime and arresting those who would do harm. It is providing counseling for families in distress, getting someone suffering from mental illness medical help, working out a civil dispute between neighbors, educating our new arrivals to America and working with youth in after-school programs. We require officers to not only be experts in law enforcement but also to have many of the same skills of a trained psychologist, lawyer and community organizer.
We ask our police to do this in an increasingly troubled world. We have lost 137 U.S. police officers to line of duty deaths already this year — many due to an unprecedented number of ambushes, police officers who were often simply sitting in a patrol car catching up on paperwork from the last call. This past month Boise Police Department lost a K9 and saw two of our Boise officers shot. We are thankful to have Officer Davis back at work, training the next generation of BPD. Officer Holtry remains in the hospital beginning the long road of rehabilitation, and K9 handler Officer Williams has begun the search for a new partner. In the face of all this danger our officers continue to serve, going into the dark places of our world at the most dangerous of moments.
Why? First, your Boise police officers care. They are drawn to policing because they want to make a difference in the community in which they live. Protecting those in need, those who are in a vulnerable moment. Making a positive difference for others is a core part of who your officers are at heart.
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This can be an extremely difficult calling to dedicate one’s life. We are sustained through the hard times by the very community we serve. Your support, partnership and energy are what make being a police officer in the city of Boise and state of Idaho a special opportunity. It is when we hit our most difficult of moments in which you respond with overwhelming support. The past month has been one of those times in which a community defines its relationship with its police officers.
Whether it was homemade brownies dropped off at the station, a warm handshake thanking an officer for their service, a handmade card from a kindergarten class or the simple smile as you passed, you made a difference for us.
This relationship forms the backbone of the safe communities we enjoy here in the Treasure Valley. It is a partnership between our communities and your police departments. Working together in both good and bad times to ensure our city remains a place where you can walk at night, where kids can ride their bikes through the neighborhood, where graffiti is the exception and we look after the little things as well as the big.
We celebrate this year as it comes to a close and we look forward to 2017. I give thanks each day for our law enforcement officers who keep my family and our communities safe. Just as I give thanks for each of you who make serving as a Boise police officer both a privilege and an honor.
William Bones is Boise police chief.