The past two weeks have been truly tragic for police officers, the protectors of our communities. In the most recent highly publicized cases, the force as a whole lost five officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge. But the total loss for the month of July nationwide so far is 17. We know about eight of those, but what follows are the names you probably haven’t heard.
On July 3, the Sterlington P.D. in Louisiana lost Sgt. David Elahi to vehicular assault; on July 4 Deputy Sheriff Paul Clark of the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri was killed in a vehicular assault; on July 5 Southern Methodist University Police Officer Calvin “Mark” McCullers in Texas lost his life when he drowned while on-duty; an automobile accident claimed the life of Town of Salem Department of Public Safety Officer Michael Ventura on July 8 in Wisconsin; Security Supervisor Joseph Zangaro and Court Officer Ronald Kienzie of Berrien County Trial Court in Michigan were killed by gunfire on July 11; on July 12 Officer Marco Zarate of the Bellaire Police Department in Texas was killed in a vehicle pursuit; on July 16 a Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections officer, Mari Johnson was killed by assault; and on July 18 a Luzerne County, Pa. Corrections Officer, Kristopher Moules died as a result of an assault. Add to that list 51 other names of officers killed in the line of duty in 2016, and let’s not forget about the 24 K-9s killed so far.
Without a doubt, it is a dangerous job. And yet, they voluntarily put on their uniforms every morning to face the unknown. Why do they do it? Rich Aloy from the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office says they do it to make a change in the communities they live in. “Law Enforcement is a calling. We want to help those who need help in times of crisis,” he said. A calling indeed. While a sniper was raining gunfire in the streets of Dallas, law enforcement ran toward the bullets to stop the attack.
“We are sworn to serve and protect,” Sheriff Wendell Hall said. “We are so blessed to have the community here that we do. We just feel a different atmosphere here. The people of this community show us daily that we are appreciated,” Hall said.
Aloy said the shootings definitely affect the deputies, but they push through it. “They understand just how important their job is so they press on. Our staff keeps the safety of our citizens as their priority,” he said.
We as a community are blessed to have the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office as our protectors. Practically speaking, law enforcement is what stands between us and anarchy. They deserve our thanks and our support. If you see a deputy, tell him or her thank you, or buy them a cup of coffee. We can’t pay them back for what they do but we can let them know we appreciate them and the sacrifices they make – putting everything on the line for people they don’t even know.