Who you gonna call?

| June 18, 2020 1:00 AM

The “Ghost Busters” theme by Ray Parker Jr., “Who You Gonna Call,” comes to mind when you see the attacks to defund police and the lack of support that law enforcement is experiencing on a national level in response to recent events.

The bad actions of a few individual officers around the country do not represent all the good that so many peace officers do on a daily basis day-in and day-out around our country. There are millions of interactions between peace officers and the public that are for the most part positive. What appears to be playing out now is the bad actions of a few tainting the good of many.

We are fortunate that most people in our area are very supportive of all our law enforcement officers. Some of the things that you are not hearing about in the mainstream media are all the officers who have been assaulted or killed doing their jobs to protect and serve. In Idaho, the most recent report is that 400 law enforcement officers were assaulted. This number reflects aggravated assaults which resulted in serious injury or in which a weapon was used that could have caused serious injury or death. This number does not include simple assault incidents.

Peace officers have challenging jobs dealing with individuals under the influence, the mentally disturbed, or those involved with criminal activity with the thought of trying to avoid arrest. Officers’ training always attempts to deescalate the situation and to do everything possible to avoid the use of force.

On a local level, we have obtained grants to pay for expert instructors focusing on use of force to reinforce the decision-making process for law enforcement officers when they are faced with those challenging decisions. We also cover the topic of ethical decisions and the importance of other officers stepping in if they ever see someone using excessive force.

The majority of people in Boundary County are law abiding citizens and would do anything they could to support or help law enforcement, but we are not immune to some people who have no qualms about hurting law enforcement officers. My experience is probably no different than most who work in law enforcement in Boundary County. During my career, I have been spat on, kicked, down on the ground fighting for my life to keep someone from pulling their handgun out of their waistband, almost the victim of someone who had just shot and killed his wife and her father. The suspect decided to flee into the woods after I exited the patrol vehicle with my shotgun; after he was caught, he said that he was just getting ready to shoot me until he realized that he may get shot. As peace officers, we know the risks when we take our oath of office.

It is important — for all the peace officers who are still striving to be the servants to their communities, who continue to do the right thing, who use good judgment — to know that officers are not racists like the national media is attempting to portray them, and to know that their work and sacrifices are still supported by the communities that they serve.

I feel that we are blessed to live and work in North Idaho, but where will the next generation of men and women come from who are willing to take an oath and risk their lives to serve others if our country and communities do not support them. We ask that you don’t let the actions of some bad officers reflect on the majority of good peace officers, or you may have to ask the question “who you gonna call”?

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Dave Kramer is the sheriff of Boundary County.