Today (Monday January 9, 2023) is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
In American history, the idea of law enforcement was fairly loose. The Wild West was truly wild. Many of those who served as sheriffs or in other police capacities were actually just bullies who helped their friends and persecuted their enemies. As recently as the first half of the 20th Century (and in some cases a decade or two longer) corruption was common in law enforcement.
In the 1800s and in some places well into the 20th Century, law enforcement was often carried out in the form of posses, where the sheriff and a posse of volunteers and deputies (much like the stereotypical Westerns of the 1960s) would enforce laws rather than a centralized police force. This led to law enforcement in many places being used to persecute those of different races or ethnicities.
Whether it's protecting society from those who would break laws enacted to protect the lives and property of citizens, maintaining order at large events, or providing other services to protect the community, today's law enforcement officers are a very important part of maintaining a civilized society.
National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was created by multiple organizations in 2015. In support of their services citizens are encouraged to do their part in thanking law enforcement officers on this day.
Officers today are much better trained than they ever were in the past, and much more is expected of them. Pay for law enforcement jobs is modest, but those who take those jobs are expected to serve all without letting their personal opinions interfere with their actions.
Lincoln County has only had one officer killed in the line of duty--Sgt. John Howell in 1973. In Gaston County, officer Tyler Herndon was killed in Mount Holly in 2020. There have been other 'close calls' where suspects threatened or fired upon officers. But in addition to risking their lives to protect others, officers are often expected to put their duties before family.
Some might say it's a thankless job--but that's the purpose of this day: to thank those who serve in this dangerous, difficult, often underpaid line of work for the good of the community at large.
Many took the time to pray for the NFL player who was injured in a football game a week ago. It seems to us just as important and appropriate that we take the time to pray for these men and women whose service often puts their lives at risk, and to say 'thank you' for what you do.