Let police officers know their lives matter
I am the guy that some of you saw standing at the stop lights near the Kasson Police office. I am a regional missionary that frequently does outreach to law enforcement officers and agencies in the area. I am personally invested in this kind of missions work because I have a brother in law enforcement; subsequently I have an inside glimpse at how the work can affect the lives of those sworn to keep our communities safe. That is why I chose to be present in Kasson when the news broke that a Kasson officer had apparently attempted to take his own life.
I didn’t wait for the full story because the full story wasn’t my motivation; the men and women who knew the officer and worked with him daily were my motivation. The men and women in law enforcement work together in ways most us will never understand; often spending upwards of 12 hours or more a day depending on their fellow officers for safety and security. During those shifts, officers, even in small rural American towns, are exposed to things that most of us only read about in local papers or see in news reports that only give the details in sound bites.
The officers that report to take dog-at-large calls or parking complaints are also the officers that get called to the scenes of suicides and traffic fatalities. They see the infants and children dead due to drunk drivers or bad timing. Then they get sent off to the next seemingly low-key call.
When the news broke that there was an apparent suicide attempt, I knew that the officers of the Kasson and Dodge County were going to be left reeling. I wanted to be there to reach out to them. Over the days that followed, there was speculation and disbelief and penultimately news broke about the investigation into the officer’s personal conduct and alleged criminal victimization of family and others. The truth of this revelation, maybe more than the suicide attempt, will have had a profoundly wounding effect on the men and women he worked with for the 14 years he worked in Kasson.
Make no mistake those remaining officers were as disgusted as the rest of us; maybe more so. While the broader community was asking how this happened; the officers that he worked with must have been asking the same question. There may have been some self-blame; wondering how someone they worked with could do what he is alleged to have done working alongside of them. The officers left in the wake of these tragic events live in a reality where nothing happens in a vacuum.
In a time when it has become increasingly popular to cast doubt on the actions of officers, or to believe that the Thin-Blue-Line exists to protect bad cops, these men and women will bear the weight of this man’s alleged crimes for months or maybe years to come, because one bad cop bruises all the good apples.
In the days ahead, it will become increasingly important that the people of Kasson and Dodge county stand firmly behind the officers that work to keep their streets safe. The last thing the officers left behind need is to feel further isolation or distrust. The ones left behind are the same people they were before all of this happened, and their lives still matter.
On the sign I hold there is a reference to Romans 13:1-5. As a Christian, it is vitally important for me to recognize that God has appointed all officers as ministers of His justice, and like me, they are human, doing a job that many wouldn’t, while being subject to the same human frailties I myself suffer. Yet in His kindness God has seen fit to appoint these men and women to be His instruments to quell evil in our world.
The natural reaction to the horrific events that led up to the arrest of the former officer is revulsion. Yet it is imperative that at the same time our respect for those he worked with not be allowed to wane. Instead I want to compel any person reading this to approach any Kasson or Dodge County officer you see and thank them for continuing to do a difficult job and letting them know that their lives still matter. And maybe, just maybe, if you are a believer, offer your prayers to God on their behalf.
Todd Pearson is a missionary with “If Only Even One.” He lives in Spring Valley.