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WHEN THE CALL TO DUTY TOUCHES TOO CLOSE TO HOME
Posted on Saturday, January 20 @ 23:25:24 CST by van

News and Views I wrote this article for the “Nebraska Fraternal Order of Police Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter 1985-86 edition which was at a time when the “farm and ranch” crisis was placing law enforcement officers in very trying and even dangerous conditions.  It was a tribute to those men and women in uniform and its message is still appropriate

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 In Nebraska and other states, where the principal industries are agriculture, he financial crisis has caused the trusted image of the local sheriff and his deputies to change in the minds of many.  While the way in which the rural law enforcement officers must conduct business has not changed substantially, there has been a substantial change in the type of business the sheriffs and their deputies are ordered to perform by the courts.


 Yes, rural America is changing and these changes and subsequent pressures are coming to bear on those men and women whose badges set them apart from the rest.  These are hard times for those who live in the place where peace is traditional, where honesty is not only taught to children but lived by adults, and where work and righteousness are the hallmarks of family stability.


 Words that were a few years ago reserved only for city folks, such as foreclosure, replevin and the like, have become prominent in the coffee shops and others places where the “good old boys” meet to solve the problems of the world.  Now, all of a sudden, the problems of the world are much more localized.


 Yes, the law enforcement officers - the friends and neighbors who go to the same churches, belong to the same lodges, believe in the same ideals and who are boosters of the same high school football teams - have become the subjects of undue ridicule and sometimes scrorn.  Feelings have become so inense that, from time to time, some fail to remember that behind the badges are real people.  People with families hopes, dreams and the same human frailities against which we all must struggle and fight.


 For law enforcement officers, the only difference is that their duty and calling is the enforcement of the law and they cannot choose which laws to enforce or not to enforce.  We are all obligated to obey the law;’ however, some do not, so society requires requires uniformed keepers-of-the-peace.


 It is particularly painful for a law enforcement officer, who is usually known by his or her first name by everyone in town, to be the one escorting the trucks and trailers to the farm or ranch when he court orders him or her to pick up the property that has been secured or foreclosed upon

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 There is not a single sheriff or deputy who enjoys this kind of work.  When confronted with an angury ad hostile farmer or rancher and a crying wife, who have been lifelong friends, perhaps, the degree of courage, calm, act and diplomacy becoe the mainstays of today’s true professional law enforcement officer.


 The hurt and humiliation fo the farmer or rancher are shared by the men and women who wear the badges and carry out the court’ orders.  There is fear and plenty of it because when duty calls, those to be confronted are not the “criminal element” but rather they are friends, neighbors and parents of the children who share a classroom with a law enforcement officer’s own children.  The use of force is the very last option tha must be employed.  But what if?


 What - if words and reasons are not enough.  What if persuasions and patients are not enough? What if, in a less than rational moment when control is lost, the shotgun that had always been reserved for game is leveled at a law enforcement officer’s badge?


 We are particularly fortunate and justifiable proud of our Nebraska sheriffs and their deputies.  They are the kind of folks who will, under any circumstances meet the challenge with dignity, will use only the degree of force that is absolutely required and who will always realize tht farmers and ranchers, even when times are rough and tensions are high, are people too.


 There is no doubt that when we seriously think about all for which we live, work and pray, the men and women who wear the badges have truly shown themselves to be our friends and not our foes.

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