On Friday, January 28, 2022 Dominique Rivera stood in front of the thousands upon thousands of New York City police officers who lined 5th Avenue, thousands of news viewers, and, in essence, every American and made the promise that her husband’s death would not be in vain. “We’ll take the watch from here,” she said through her tears.
Since 2020, 260 officers have died in the line of duty. These deaths may not have always been from gunfire as in Detective Rivera’s case, but this number is emblematic of the danger that these men and women willingly put themselves into in the name of keeping their communities and country safe. They are, after all, the ones who run towards the fight and gunfire.
Each and every officer who takes their oath and steps onto the streets knows that their life is in danger, and that their loved ones could be getting that terrifying call. And that danger has only increased as the Defund the Police movement continues to sweep across America. With the support of outspoken politicians, there’s been a growing sense of animosity towards law enforcement which has only served to make the jobs of our country’s finest, harder, and our towns and cities less safe.
Dominique Rivera, in her moving eulogy for her fallen husband, noted that Detective Rivera had been tired of fighting against the push from the DA and others, whose policies and lax law enforcement practices continually favored the criminal over the officers – policies like no cash bail have been key in stirring up a complete disregard for law and order, and breakdown of the respect due to those who serve and protect.
With all of that in mind, and knowing that the officers are tired, we started thinking – Has the damage already been done? Or can we, as civilians, help take up the watch? And, if we do take up this call to action, how?
To answer these questions (and burning need), we reached out to a friend, who is the wife of a police captain, to find out how we as patriotic civilians can take the watch from here.
5 Ways to Support Our Law Enforcement Officers
The actions of a few wreaked havoc on the profession. People are beginning to see the repercussions of the demonization of police. The damage is done, but here are some things we can do to help recover:
1. Teach your kids to respect police. Teach them how precious life is. Even for people you don’t like. The inherent truth that all lives are valuable is just one of many things that drives police officers, EMS, first responders, and firefighters to run towards the danger. Teaching our children to respect others is step number one. Teaching them to respect police officers is step number two.
We’ve all heard a parent threaten their child with calling the police if they don’t behave, but this is not the way police officers should be viewed. We should not be teaching kids to fear the police, but rather to respect the job they do and position they hold in society. If police are viewed as helpful fixers and protectors, a new generation will be raised feeling safer and knowing the value of police officers in the community.
2. Find out who controls your police department and reach out – This may vary from state to state, but generally your city council and mayor have some say and sway with the police departments. Contact them – email, call, and go to the meetings. Make your voice heard. Civic engagement is a dying art – revive it in the name of a safe community for you and your children.
3. Then, move it up the ladder. Your DA, state legislatures, governors, and office of the Attorney General all play a huge part in legal precedents, policies, criminal charges, bail laws, and so much more. Laws and policies these individuals put in place make a difference. “New York’s new bail reform law had been in effect for a mere three months when the state legislature amended it in early April ,” says the Brennan Center for Justice. This bail reform meant that those charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies would not be held in jail pretrial.
In the face of these new policies, police officers are fighting against the current. The friend we reached out to said that the police feel like, “Why am I even doing my job because criminals are not held accountable, and they arrest the same people over and over and they are released.” The frustration is building, and a police force unable to do their jobs (or forced to do the same job, arresting the same people, over and over again) is not effective.
4. Vote. If there is one thing we’ve all learned over the past two years, it’s that local and state elections are incredibly important. From governor all the way down to school board, there isn’t an election you should skip. Our elected officials hold the power – but it is a power we the people give them. Vote for those who are tough on crime. Make sure you turn out to vote for: judges, city attorneys, attorney generals, sheriffs, state representatives, mayors, and governors.
5. Send a message with your dollars. Putting your money where your heart is is a great way to show your support for our law enforcement officers. There are many companies that offer discounts for LEOs, and shopping at these stores whenever possible is a fantastic way to send a message with your dollars. For example, Midnight Platoon clothing made patches and a t-shirt in memory and support of Detectives Rivera and Mora. All profits from the sale of these items will go to the detectives’ families. Other companies that offer discounts can be found here, and a list of companies that proudly support law enforcement and the military can be found here.
In so many ways we, as women, as citizens, are at the heart of determining who protects those who protect us. Our children must know and respect the purpose and sacrifice of police officers, and we must utilize the power given to the people to effect the change we want to see in our communities.
This is an uphill battle against a hostility rooted in fear and directed towards brave men and women who want nothing more than to see their communities thrive. It is up to us to step forward and take the watch from here.